Kartik Purnima is celebrated on the fifteenth lunar day in the month of Kartik. The festival is called by different names in different parts of India like Tripuri Purnima and Tripurari Purnima. This year Karthik Purnima will be celebrated on November 4. Karthik Purnima borrows its name from Tripurari, an enemy of the demon Tripurasura. Notably, Tripurari is another form of Lord Shiva and the folk tale goes that on Karthik Purnima, Shiva had killed Tripurasuraha. Tripurasuraha is the collective name of three demons Tarakaksha, Vidyunmali and Viryavana. The three demons collectively became Tripusuraha and controlled the entire world after conquiering over the gods and Tripura, three cities in space. It is on Kartik Purnima that Lord Shiva had killed the three demons with a single arrow. This act of valor impressed the gods so much so that it was declared as the festival of illumination. Because of this the festival is also known as Dev-Diwali or Diwali for the gods.
Kartik Purnima has other references as well. It is the day of Matsya, or the fish-incarnation of Lord Vishnu and is also the birth date of Vrinda, the personification of Tulsi. Son of Shiva and god of war Kartikeya was also born on this day. The devotees of Radha and Krishna believe that on Kartik Purnima, the gods had danced the rasa. The festival is closely related with Prabodhini Ekadashi. Various fairs across the country begin on Prabodhini Ekadashi and is concluded on Kartik Purnima. Many Vishnu followers observe ‘kartik snana’. It is a holy dip in the Ganges which is believed to be auspicious. In several temples offerings are made to the deities. This act is known as Annakuta and abstinence of different activities like shaving, cutting of trees.