Kartikai Deepam is preceeded by the Bharani
Deepam celebration when a lamp is lit in the main shrine of the temple following
a fire sacrifice before the shrine of Surya. A small bowl of ghee lighted
at this fire is used to light five other lamps representing the five aspects of Shiva.
Preparations begin for the Kartikai Deepam which is to be celebrated in
A group of fishermen carry a portion of this
fire inside a container of baked earth to the summit of the mountain where a large copper
utensil filled with offerings of ghee and pieces of cloth has been placed.
Crowds begin to throng the temple complex, and a discernible
order prevails among the crowd as the tens of thousands gathered begin their patient wait
for the auspicious moment when the Deepam celebration would reach its
In the meanwhile, preparations go on for the afternoons
climax. Four of the five decorated Pancha Murthys are are brought out
from the main shrine of the temple and housed in Vimanams in the 3rd prakaram
of the temple, facing the flag staff and the Annamalai Hill. The last to arrive is Annamalaiyar
who comes out of the second prakaram, dancing with his consort.
The crowd waits to catch a glimpse of the image of Ardhanareeswarar
which then brought out of the inner shrine towards the Utsavar Annamalayaar. The
image of Ardhanareeswarar is brought out in a gait by the bearers and a deeparadanai
is offered to the Utsavar, and at this very instant, the lamp on the hill is lighted as
the crowd breaks into a cheer, yet retaining the order that was there when it was just
beginning to assemble.
The human mass gathered within and around the precincts of
the temple, along with the residents of the town and neighboring towns catch sight of the
flame atop the Annamalai hill, cherishing the age
old belief that it is a representation of Shiva himself, who appeared in the
form of a flame whose origins could not be deciphered by the other two of the Trinity
namely Bhramma and Vishnu.
Keeping with tradition, the inner sanctum doors close, with
the arrival of the deepam outside, and it is believed Annamalaiyaar is to be worshipped
only as the beacon until the next morning when the shrine is reopened.
Late at night, images of the Pancha murthy's are taken in
procession on decorated mounts.