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Tradition Meets

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Temples of Tamilnadu

Kartikai Deepam

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The celebration of Kartikai Deepam marks the conclusion of the ten day Bhrammotsavam in the month of Kartikai (Scorpio , Nov 15 through December 15). Each of these festival days is marked by the procession of the Pancha Murthys (Somaskandar (Annamalayar), Unnamulaiyaal, Ganapati, Subramanyar and Chandikeswarar) in gaily decorated mounts. Most noteworthy among these are the Rishabha Vahana Utsavam celebrated on the fifth evening of the festival and the Rathotsavam, celebrated on the seventh day of the festival.

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 the afternoon.

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 peak.

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In the meanwhile, preparations go on for the afternoon’s 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.

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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.  

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Late at night, images of the Pancha murthy's are taken in procession on decorated mounts.