According to Hindu or Vedic astrology, Jyotish, months are lunar based. Not that they have a base on the moon, but that they are counted from one full moon to the next. And of all the months the annual month of Kartika, or Damodar, is the most auspicious, or spiritually powerful one of the year.
Kartika month begins the day after what is known in western terms as the Taurus full moon (this year on 27 Oct), when the sun is in tropical Scorpio, around late October or thereabouts, and continues until the next full moon moment about 28 days later (25 Oct). During this month aspirants can gain the most benefit from their pious activities, some say multiplied up to 1000 times. So devotees like to make pilgrimages, bathe in holy rivers, meditate more, fast and generally intensify their devotional practices.
One of the most recommended activities is to light a lamp every evening, particularly one made from ghee, and offer that to Damodar – the Vishnu deity – with prayers of devotion. In this way one attracts the blessings of the deity and burn away any sinful karma. This is an ancient practice, based on Vedic texts, and thus has a history to back it up and validate its authenticity. Of course any sinful activity performed during this month is also magnified, so the potency works both ways.
Contrast this with the western, Christian (some say originally Celtic) festival of Halloween, celebrated at the same time annually on 31 October. It’s also known as All Hallow’s Evening, or Samhain (Summer’s end), or All Saints Eve, where one remembers the departed saints (hallows), martyrs and faithful. Here for three days candles are also lit, fasting from meat products is traditionally observed, and extra prayers for the departed are offered. It’s a curious yet totally unrelated coincidence that both these festivals are observed in this way, and despite the obvious differences, one can’t help but see a common thread between the two, and thus wonder what original pre-Christian source initiated this festival, and how close those roots may then be to those of the ancient Vedic culture.