Kartika Snaana: Kartika Snaanaas are obesrved commencing from Ashwiyuja Sukla Dashami, or Ekaadashi or Pournami waking up even from two ghadiyas before Sun rise and after ablutions praying to Vishnu Bhagavan with Arghya as : Namah Kamala naabhaaya namastey Jalashaayiney, Namastestu Hrishikesha grihaanaarghyam namostutey/ (Snaanam) Kartikeyamkarishyaami Praatahsnaanam Janaardana, Preetyartham tava Deva Devesha jalesmin snaatumudyatah/ Tava prasaadaat paapam mey Damodara Vivasyatu/ (Punararghyam) Nityey naimittikay Krishna Kaartikey Paapa naashaney, Grihaanaarghyam mayaa dattam Raadhyaa sahito Harey! Thus the Karta offers ‘Arghyam’ to Bhagavan Vishnu, ‘Snaana’ to Him and ‘Repeat Arghyam’. As there would be added significance to the Snaanaas in the Tirthaas like Kurukshetra, Ganga, Pushkara etc. the Snaana kartaa resolves as follows: Kartikam sakalam maasam nitya snaayi jitendriyah, japan havishya bhuktaancha sarva paapaih pramuchyatetye/ Smritwaa Bhaageeradheem Vishnum Shivam Suryam Jalam vishet, Naabhi maatra jaley tishthan vratey snaayaadyathaavidhi/ ( One should perform formal bathing by entering water waist deep through out the entire Kartika Maasa by observing piety after the morning duties and Japa-homaas consuming only the ‘havishaanna sesha’ or the left over offerings to Agni Deva and praying to Bhaagirathi, Shiva, Vishnu and Surya Deva). Thus Kartika Snaanaas should be accomplished each morning and evening in the rest of Kartika month. In case however the Kartika snaanaas are not possibe althrough, these may be executed at least three days in the month.
In the same way of observance, Tulasi Puja be performed as a part of the Kartika Vrataas since intalling Tulasi plant, growing it and constantly touching it are all propitious acts dissolving sins; in fact performance of Pitru Shraaddhaas under the shade of Tulasi tree bestows ‘PitruTripti’. A decorated and well worshipped Tulasi plant or tree would ward off ‘Yama Kinkaras’ or followers. Tulasi dala lakshena Kartikeyorchayeddharim, Patrey patreymuni sreshtha mouktikam Phalamasnutey/ (There sure would be encourging results if Tusasi dalaas are offered to Harihara Devaas). Dhaatri Mahatmya: Like wise, worship of Dhatri (Amla ) Tree has considerable significance. Kartikey Dhaatri vrikshaadhas chitraannaistoshayeddharim, Brahmanaan bhojayedbhaktyaa swayam bhujitam bandhubhih/ ( Naivedya to Hari be performed under the shade of an Amla Tree, organise a Brahmana- Bandhu- Sweeya Bhojana as also use Amla leaves for Hari Puja and for Pitru Shraddhas. It is believed that Devas, Rishis and Sarva Tirthaas surround the Sacred Trees and Hari Jagaranaas are observed under these Trees too. Hari Jaagarana and Vrata Mahatmya: Hari Jaagarana in Kartika Month before Bhagavan Vishnu imparts Sahasra Godaana phala especially in Shiva-Vishnu or other Temples or under an Ashvattha Tree or Tulasi Vana reciting Bhagavan’s Stotraas; playing Vaadyas or musical instruments in eulogies of Bhagavan would yield vajapeya phala; Nritya or dances in the praise of Shiva-Narayana-Devis gives away the Sarva Tirtha Snaana Phala; those witnessing the musical / dance concerts in the name of Gods affords one-sixth of the players; if nothing mere stay by way of Jaagarana in these hallowed places during Kartika Maasa fetches Punya. Kartika Deva Puja or Upavaasaas, or bhojana of selected or restricted items during the month as per one’s own resolve are significant too. Upavasaas in Kartika as a part of Maasa Vrataas are of far reaching consequence: Krucchram Vyaapati Krucchramvaa Praajaapatyamathaapi vaa, Eka Raatra Vratam kuryaatriraatra Vratamevavaa./ Shaakhaahaaram Phalaahaaram Payohaarama- thaapi vaa, charedyaavannaahaaram vaa sdampraaptey Kartikey Vrati/ ( During the Kartika Month, there are Vratas ofvarious kinds of fastings like Krucchra bhojana, or Ati Krucchra, Praajaapatya, Eka- Raatra,Tri Raatra or of restricted consumption of Shaaka-Phala-Ksheera and so on). Varjita Padaarthaas in Kartika Maasa Vratas: During the course of the Vrataas, consumption of certain materials are prohibited such as onions, lahasuna, hing, Mulis , brinjals, kushmanda, kalinga, oils, salt, saag, twice cooked or burnt food; pulses like urada, masoora, chana etc. Specifically Amla on Saptamis; oils and coconuts on Ashtamis; and Amla phala on Sundays are strictly forbidden. Kartika Daana Mahima: In observing a Vrata in the Month of not eating in a Kamsya or bronze vessel, the person following the Vrata should give a daana of five broze vessels full of ghee at the end of the Vrata; if honey is left out then ghee, sugar and kseeraana should be given away; in Tila ‘thyaga’ tila daana; in mouna bhojana vrata or eating in silence then ghanta (Bell) daana; in case of Phala varjana then Phala rasa daana; for dhanya varjana go daana and so on. But nothing like Deepa daana : Ekatassarvva daanaani deepa daanam tathai kathah, Kartika deepa daanasya kalaam naarhanti shodashim/ ( All types of Daanaas would equate one ‘Deepa Daana’; in Kartika Month deepa daanaa might not be like sixteenth of any daana!) Also, if no Vrata in any month including the Chaaturmaasya Vrata is not observed, any Vrata in Kartika month ought to be performed. Avratah Kartiko eshaam gato mudhadhiyaamiha,Teshaam Punyasya leshopi nabhavetsooraraatmanam/ Ityukteh/ (Those stupids who do not observe any Vrata in the course of Kartika maasa are as bad as pigs and do not deserve even a grain of Punya! ). Purana Shravana in Kartika Maasa: ‘Puranetihaasa’ shravana is a requirement in Kartika month and to do this only a well read Brahmana is qualified while others could hear and imbibe the contents of the Puranas; Vispashtamadbhutam shaantam spashtaakshara padam tathaa, Kalaa swara samaayuktam rasabhaava samanvitam/ Brahmanaadishu sarveshu grandhaartham chaarpayenn nrupa, Ya yevam vaachadraajansa vipro Vyaasa ucchyatey/ (Those of Brahmanaas who could pronounce each ‘Akshara’ of the narration clearly and audibly in a juicy, vivid and impressive manner are like Vyasa Bhagavan himself!). Such a narrator should be honoured and respected worthy of worshipping. The significance of Purana shravana in the contect of Kartika Snaanaas is amply described in the Kashi Khanda of Skanda / Kartika Maha Purana. Akaasha Deepa Daana: The significance of Kartika Deepa has been emphasised : Ahead of each house, one should arrange a man size pole with the formation of a Deepa Yantra to facilitate the display of eight Deepas with a main deepa in the middle to signify a swing to let Shri Vishnu be seated and enjoy the oscillation ! The relevant Mantra would say: Damodaraaya nabhasi tulaayandolayaa saha, Pradeepantey prayacchaami Namonantaaya vedhasey! ( May I offer a Deepa-like swing to Lord Ananta which would oscillate back and forth on the Sky in the form of an Akaasha Deepa or a Sky Light!). This symbolic Akaasha Deepa should last through out the Kartika Maasa, conveying the blessings of Vishnu the Creator of the entire Universe to one and all!
Kartika Bali Puja: As the Vrischika Sankranti takes place and Kartika Shukla Pratipaada arrives, Abyangana Snaana is necessary. In fact, the Saanaas are to performed continuously on three days till the Shukla Triteeya not only for avoiding Narakaas but for Lakshmi Prapti. On this Pratipaada a series of Karyaas are scheduled viz. Bali Pujana, Go kreedana, Govardhana Puja, Margapali bandhana ( dry grass rope tied to a high pole worshipped as route to Skies and Swarga), Nutana Vastra Dharana and Dyuta Naari kartruka Neeraajana Mangalaacharana. As there is plenty of time till Chandra Darshana, all these Karyaas could be comfortably done in the Pratipaada Tithi itself. Before the Bali Puja, a huge Figure of King Bali with two hands is improvised and decorated in Pancha Varna colours while persons from the Public supply Rice grains to ornate the Symbol of Bali. Then Bali is invoked with the Mantra: Bali Raja namastubhyam Virojana Suta Prabho, Bhavishyendra Suraataatey pujeyamprati gruhyataam/ ( Bali Raja, the son of Virojana and the future enemy of Indra and Devaas; do accept my greetings). Balibhuddushya yatkinchit Daana karannokshayam Vishnu preeti karam tat, yaa drushena bhaavena tishthatyasyaam Muneeswara/ Harsha Danytaadi bhavena tasya varsham prayaatih/ ( Whatever charity is offered today should become Akshaya or of endless value and be appreciated byVishnu himself! The feeling of happiness or sadness of mine today should be the harbinger of the same feeling throught the year next! ) Asyaam dyutam Bali Raajye prakrutavyam sarva maanavaih,Tasmindyutey jayo yasya samvatsaram jayah/ Visheshavaccha bhoktavyam prashastai Braahmanaaih saha, Bali raajjyai Deepa daanaastadaa Lakshmih sthiraa bhavet/ ( Those who play gambling on this morning oo Kartika Pratipaada are sure to win the game and so should happen to those concerned a winning spree throught out the year ahead. Feasts should be treated to learned Brahmanas that day. Indeed, Deepa Daana in Bali Rajya should bestow stability of Devi Lakshmi and in that house illumination sparkles constantly!)
Lakshmi and Kubera Puja: Lashmiryaa Lokapaalaanaam Dhenu rupena samsthitaa, Ghritam vahati yajnerthaa mama paapam vyapohatu/ Agratassantu mey gaavo gaavomey santu prishthatah, Go mey hridaye santu gavaam mey santu vasaamyaham/ ( Lakshmi has assumed the Form of a Sacred Cow for all the Lokapaalakaas to facilitate Yagna Karyaas by way of supplying plentiful ghee. May She destroy all my sins. May She stay with ahead and behind me as also in my heart. I do unfailing worship to the calf and bull too to enable milking and carrying weight respectively . If ‘Govardhana Parvata’ is in the reach, or else materealise a formation of the Govardhana, do perform the Parvata and worship Krishna by invoking both the Govardhana and Krishna : Shri Krishna preetyartham Govardhana Pujanam Gopaalapujanam cha karishye/ Then recite the Mantra: Gopala Murtey Vishvesha Shakratotsava bhedaka, Govardhanakrita cchatra pujaam mey Hara Gopatey! Govardhana dharaadhaara Gokulatraana kaaraka,Vishnubaahukritacchhaaya gavaam koti pradobhava/ (Gopaala Murti! Vishvesha! You had resisted the observance of Indrotsava Vrata and lifted the huge Govardhana Mountain as an umbella and saved Gokula from the fury of incessant rains created by Indra; do kindly provide abundance of cows and milk); so saying ‘Shodashopachaaraas’or the formal services of sixteen offerings like Dhupa-Deepa-Naivedyaas to Go-Gopala-Govardhanaas and provide Go daana- Anna daana- Trina Daana- Dhana Daana to Brahmanas and BaliDaana in favour of Govardhana, climaxed by Brahmana Bhojana and Pratyaksha Go-Pradakshinaas.
Bhishma Panchaka Vrata: This is a Kamya ( optional) Vrata to secure prosperity, progeny , fame, progress in life and finally Moksha-in short, ‘Iham’ and ‘Param’ which is observed men, women and even widows. This is observed from Kartika Shukla Ekadashi to Purnima. On the Tenth day of Maha Bharata Battle, Arjuna found Bhishma was invincible and on the advice of Bhishma himself brought Eunuch Prince called Shikhandi- the son of King Drupada to face him so that he would assume ‘Astra Sanyasa’ and Arjuna pierced Bhishma’s body with Astraas and made a bed of arrows on the battle field. Bhishma had the boon of death at will and waited till the arrival of Uttarayana for his death. Hence the significance of the Panchaka Vrata since Bhagavan Krishna himself narrated the Vrata Vidhaana to Bheeshma. The Vrata Vidhana includes Kankalpa-Three Arghyaseach day-Tilodaka-DevaTarpana- Deepa Daana to Brahmanas-Upavaasa-Pancha Gavya Paaraayana- Naivedya of Pancha Bhakshya-Naivedya- Brahman Bhojana-Shaastra Shravana- Udyaapana and at the end of the Vrata –‘Tirtha Prasada viyiyoga’. The Sakalpa states: Putraabhilaasha kaamyaartham Dhanaabhilaashaa kamyaartham, Putri Vivaaha kaamyartham, Arogya-Aishwarya kaamyaartham, Bhishma Panchaka Vratam Kartika Shudda Ekaadashim Arrambhya Purnimaaparyantam Bhahmana Suvaashini Puja mukhena mayaa upavaasa charana mukhena karishye!
Mantra Grahana Diksha: On Kartika Shudda Ekaadashi Shiva Vishnu-adi Mantra grahana can be done by a Guru after referring Chandra-Taaraa bala on that day. Maharshi Narada was quoted having stated: Kartiketu kritaa deekshaa Nrinaam Janma mochani/ ( Any Mantra Diksha in Kartika is highly significant as it paves way to Janma Vimochana.) Yaamala Tantra provides the ‘Utpatti’ or the root meaning of Diksha: Divyam Jnaanam yato datthaat kuryaat paapasya sankshamam, Tasmaat diksheti saa proktaa Munibhihstantra vedibhih// It states more damagingly further: Adikshitaanaam Martyaanaam dosham shunvantu Saadhakaah, Annam vishtaasamam jneyam Jalam mutra samam tathaa/ Adikshita kritam Shraaddham Shraaddham chaa Dikshitasya cha, Griheetvaa Pitarastasya Narakey chaashu daaruney!! (To those who have not taken up Diksha, Annam is as bad as defecation and warer as as bad as urine. The Shraaddhas offered by a person without Diksha would not save Pitrus from Narakaas!)
Tulasi kaashthaa Maalaa Dharana / Vishnu Prabotsava Tulasi Vivaha: Skanda Purana asserts: Nivedya Keshavey maalaam Tulasi kaashtha sambhavaam, Vahateyo NaroBhaktyaa tgasya naivaasti paatakam/ Tulasi kaashtha sambhutey maaley Krishna jana priye, Vibharmi twaamaham kanthe kurumaam Krishna vallabham/ Yevam sampraarthya vidhivanmaalaam Krishna galerpitaam, Dhaarayey Kartikey yo vai sagacchey Vishnavam padam/ ( Since there is an assurance that the Tulasi Kaashtha Maala which was garlanded around the neck of Bhagavan Krishna Himself, how could there be any kind of sins reach me wearing the neck of a Krishna Bhakta like me; for sure I too on the path of Vishnu Sthaana!) Same kind of assurances are voiced in Nirnaya Sindhu, Padm Purana and so on. Hence one should wear the Tulasi Kaashtha Maal like Rudrakshaas and perform Devatarchana to please not only Devataas but satify the Pitru ganaasalso while performing Shraaddhas.
Referring to Tulasi Vivaha, Dharma Sindhu states that there is no Tithi Nirnaya but could be celebrated on any of the three days during Kartika Ekadashi to Purnima. After Sankalpa, Veda Pathana, Mangala Snaana to Vishnu and Tulasi, Vastra-Yagnopaveeta-Pushpa- Gandha-Phalaadi ‘Shodashopachaaraas’ on the basis of Purusha Sukta be done along side ‘Mangala Vaadyaas’; the same Vivaha Vidhis be followed by first facing the bride and groom with a screen in between before Vishnu’s tying Mangala Sutra and therafter together thus accomplishing the Shubha Vivaha, stating: Mayaa samvardhitaam yadhaashaktyalankrutaamimaam Tulasi Deveem Daamodaraaya Shridharaaya Varaaya tubhyamaham sampradadey/ ( Organised under my supervision as per my limited capacity of ‘Alankaara’ and ‘Aoupachaaraas’, I have the unique honour and humility to offer the Sacred Hands of Tulasi Devi to Damodara in the august presence of the full congregation of Devas and Devis ). As the Karta would leave ‘Gandhaakshata Jala’ on the Vivaha Vedika, it would be said as mutual approval while the Deva and Devi are made to improvise ‘Kara sparsha’ signifying exchange of mutual approvals as Mantras are recited : Ka dam kasmaa adaatkaamah Kaamaayaadaat- Kaamo Daataa kaamah pratigriheetaa Kaamam Samudramaavisha, Kaamenatwaa pratiguhnami KaaaitattheyVrishtirasi dyostwaa dadaatu Prithivi pratigrunantu/ The Mantraas would follow prayers, Tulasi Daana to Brahmanaas with appropriate Dakshinnaas and ‘Swasti Vaachanaas’.
Vaikuntha Chaturdashi: Observing Upavaasa on the previous day and performing Shiva Puja in the early hours of Arunodaya on the Chaturdashi, so that fasting would have been considered as during the entire previous day and night. In case Chaturdashi occurs at Arunodaya of the previous and the following days, then the Puja is to be observed on the second Arunodaya. Again it is on this Chaturdashi when Amavashya occurs then ‘Kartika Maasa Vratodyaapana’ be performed too, in which case there might be an extra Upavaasa and Raatri Jaagaran with Geeta-Nrityaas and then the Karta is qualified to reap ‘Go Sahasra Daana Phala’; the ‘Vratodyaapana’ is to be then performed on the Purnima day with his wife after Agni- Homa of Tilaas and Paayasa along with Godaana.
Chaaturmasya Vrata Samaapti: The end of the Chaturmaasya Varata on the Manvaadi Tithis of Kartika Shukla Dwadashi or Pournami there should be Daanaas, offering of Vastra dwayaas in connection with Nakta Vrataas, Ekaantaropvaasa, Go Daana, Bhu shayana, Shashtha kaala Bhojana Vrata Go daana, Swarna vreehi Swarna Godhuma daana, Goyugma daana in the context of Kruccha Vrata, Godaana in the context of ‘Shaakhaahaara’ Vrata, Ksheera Bhakshana / Ksheera Varjna pursuant to Payo Vrata and Go Daana; Vastra daana and Go daana in connection with Madhu-Dadhi- Ghrita Varjana Vrata; Suvarna daana on account of Brahmacharya paalana, Vastra yugma daana due to Tambula tyaaga Vrata; Ghantaa daana for observing silence; Deepa-Vastra dwaya daana for observing Deepa Vrata; Kaamsya Paatra/ Go daana for Bhumi Bhojana Vrata; Lavana Purna Tamra Paatra daana for Lavaana Varjana Vrata and so on. Again it would be the Udyapana of Laksha Pradakshina- Laksha Namaskaara Vrata initiated on Ashaadha Purnima or Maagha Purnima. Pushpa-Patra Laksha Vratodyapana too is scheduled on Kartika Shukla Dwaadashi and among these Pujaas, Bilwa patra Lakjsha Puja endows Lakshmi Prapti; Durvaapatra Laksha puja grants Arishta Shanti; Champaka Laksha Puja provides longevity of life; Atasi laksha puja gives Vidya; Tulasi Laksha Puja grants Vishnu Prasada; Godhuma-Dhanya Lajksha Puja entails Duhkha naashana and Sarva Pushpa Laksha Puja yields Sarva Kaamaavapnoti. Such Laksha Pushpa- Patra pujas are commenced in Maasa Traya of Kartika- Maagha-Vaishakhaas and their Udyaapana or Auspicious Terminations are best executed on Kartika Purnimaas.
Kartikeya Darshana : Kartika Purnima with the Yoga of Krittika Nakshatra is of Maha Punya and in Rohini Yoga is called ‘Maha Kartiki’. Kumara Kartikeya’s Darshana in the Kartika Purnami- KrittikaYoga bestows such prosperity as would not be available for ‘Sapta Janmaas’ or Seven Births and the on born in this Yoga Kala would be an ideal Vipra with extraordinary learning of VedaVidya. If Surya in Vishakha and the Dina Kakshatra is Krittika then that glorious time is of Padmaka Yoga. This is considered as highly significant at Pushkara Tirtha when Triparaakhya Deepa Daana is most auspicious.
Vrishotsarga: On Kartika Purnima ‘Virshotsarga’ or branding / castration of a bull is been a custom especially in rural areas of Bharata . The practice is also performed on Ashwiyuja Purnima, during the Surya and Chandra Grahanaas, Karkata Makara Sankrantis or Mesha Tula Sankrantis. Some Grandhaas also prescribed Vrishotsarga on the Purnima Tithis of Maagha-Chaitra-Vaishakha, Phalguna-Ashadhas also. Also, this Practice is also witnessed on Yuga-Manvaadis, Pitru Mrita Tithis and Ashta Shraaddha Tithis also. In Matsya Purana the reference is : Kaartikaayaam Vrishotsargam krutwaa naktam Samaacharet, Shaivam padamavaapnoti Shibavrata midam smrutam/