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Kartika or Kartik Snana is a ritual to purify oneself from the sins that one committed in the past. It is said that this Snana (bath) should be performed in the Ushnah Kala (early hours of the day before sunrise). It is the main ritual that is performed in the Kartik month. The river banks are filled with devotees of Lord Vishnu and Shiva to perform the ritual bath.
“Kartika” means the month to purify oneself and “Snana” means the holy bath. On this day, people perform a sankalpa (unwavering vow or pledge) and take a dip in the holy river Ganga or Yamuna. .
Kartika Snana is performed in Kartik month (October-November) as it is considered to be sacred and most apt for performing any act of godliness.
According to a mythological legend, once very religious two persons called Lapsi and Tapsi lived together. Tapsi was very loyal and dedicated towards God whereas Lapsi used to just offer Lassi (sweet butter milk) to God. One day, both of them started arguing over who was more devoted. Narad Muni (a divine sage) appeared and listened to them. Next day, Narad Muni dropped a precious ring in front of Tapsi deliberately. Tapsi saw the ring and hid it and sat to offer prayers. In the meanwhile, Lapsi woke up, took a bath and offered Lassi to God. At that moment, Narad Muni appeared there and concluded that Lapsi was more devoted to God since Tapsi had stolen the ring. Then Narad advised Tapsi to take bath during the Kartik month to get rid of his sins and purify his soul.
Rituals and Celebrations
In Kartika month, a month-long festival takes place at the bank of the river Ganga and Yamuna in India, especially in Haridwar. This holy bath ritual is performed and celebrated all over India with a lot of fervour. Every year, during this month, a special 10 day celebration is held for Kartik Snana, wherein after the holy bath, pilgrims offer prayers at the riverside. People worship Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati on this festival. Peoplesail tiny boats of pith and paper and. a huge fair is also held on the river side on this day.
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