|Arunalchaleswarar temple, TN holidify.com|
|Arunalchaleswarar temple, TN/arunachalagrace.blogspot.com|
|Arunalchaleswarar temple, Tituvannamalai, TN srinithyakalyani.org|
|Arunalchaleswarar temple, TN thiruvannamalai.i|
|Tiruvannamalai, TN, Girivalam map. lijindileep.com|
1st Day – Marks flag hoisting on the temple flag-pole heralding the commencement of the grand festival at the temple. Known as Dwajaroghanam, on this day, the presiding deity (utchavar) Lord Arunachaleswara is taken on a silver vahana (mount) in a procession, in the morning and night. Also taken out on different vahanas in the procession after Deeparadhana (displaying agni before the deities) are five murthis (idols) called Panchamurthigal (in Tamil) such as Lord Arunachaleswara, goddess Parvati god Ganesha, god Muruga and god Chandigeswarar (an integral part of Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu)
2nd Day– Markes the procession of five murthis (idols) on Indira Vimanam (mount of Indira).
3rd Day – The third day event assumes importance at night with the Panchamurthis (5 idols mentioned above) taken in a procession on the Simha Vahana (mount of lion).
4th Day – Marks the Kamadhenu Vahanam (mount of wish-fulfilling holy cow Kamadhenu) and the all five idols are taken out along with the wish-fulfilling tree – Karpavruksha (placed on the side of the lord) .
5th Day –Rishaba Vahanam is the major event and the idols are mounted on the huge silver Rishaba Vahanam (chariot is 25 feet tall). A unique feature is a giant umbrella of about 17 feet in diameter is also carried along during the procession.
6th Day – The nightly procession includes five idols in a nicely carved silver plated chariot which is an awe-inspiring vision.
7th Day – The main event is ‘Maha Ratham, a beautifully carved big wooden chariot and all the five idols are taken out in a procession around the four Mada streets. The chariot is pulled by a large number of people. The big ratha is so wide it almost covers the entire width of the road.
8th Day – Marks the Kuthirai vahana (the mount is horse). The fascinating sight is all the legs of the horse are off the base not touching it.
9th Day – The five deities -utchavars are mounted on the Kailasa Vahana (mount of heaven) and are taken out at night in a procession all around the Mada street close to the temple, often accompanied by playing of Nadaswaram, drums, fanfare, etc as on other festive days.
10th Day – The final day is the most important one and marks the end of the long-drawn festival - Karthigai Deepam. The festival begins in the early morning around 4 am and a huge oil lamp called Bharani Deepam is lit reverentially in the temple in the midst of chanting of mantras by the priests. In the same evening atop the hill of Arunachala at 6 pm, the Maha Deepam (huge oil lamp) is lit which is visible at far off distance . In this temple town and across Tamil Nadu in all Hindu households and Shiva and other temples oil lamp is lit with devotion. The belief has been that Lord Shiva who is sn embodiment of Agni (fire) in this temple at Tiruvannamalai blesses the people for their peace of mind and welfare. Here, at the temple Shiva is referred to as Lord Arunachaleswara.The legend has it Shiva appeared as a huge column of fire whose crown and bottom can not be fathomed. Hence, according to the core of Hindu philosophy ''God has neither beginning (Aathi) nor end (Antham); he is formless and is present in Pancha boothas'' (five elements that sustain life on the earth). Therefore, He is omnipresent and omnipotent.
The procession of Lord Periyanayagar on Rishaba Vahana (gold plated bull mount), is billed as a great event. In the float festival Lord Chandrasekarar, Goddess Parvati and Lord Subramaniar are taken in a boat called ‘Theppam’ in the holy tank. The float festival will be for three days, Lord Arunachaleswara is taken out in a procession around the hill, which is known as Girivalam or pradhakshina. Karthigai Deepam festival at this temple is a great annual event and many VIPs attend this grand function on the final day. The government makes elaborate security arrangements and travel restrictions close to the temple premises. The state government makes a few hundred buses available to ply the devotees to the temple town and back.
|Tiruvannamalai location map, TN prokerala.com|