22 November 2014

2014 Karthigai Temple -- Arunachaleswarar Temple Illumination

The Arunachaleswarar Temple lights were switched on and will remain brilliantly lighting up the Temple until after the completion of the 2014 Karthigai Arunachala Deepam Festival. 

Take a Virtual Tour of Arunachaleswarar Temple

Arunachala Grace has a link on the left column of this Blog entitled Arunachaleswarar Temple inviting readers to right click to take an amazing virtual tour of the Temple. For those that haven’t taken the 360 degree online tour, please do, its excellent. Click at this link here.

There is also another site that offers 360 degree views of the following at Arunachaleswarar Temple:-

Amman Sannathi
Moolavar Vimanam
East Rajagopuram
Urchavar Mandapam
Nanthi Mandapam
Parrot Gopuram
Perumal Sannathi
Sivagangai Teertham
Shivan Sannathi

To begin with take a tour of Mother's Shrine at this link here.

Amman Sannathi

Pradosham November 19, 2014

Below are four photographs of the recently observed Pradosham at Arunachaleswarar Temple on Wednesday November 19, 2014. 

17 November 2014

2014 Major Karthigai Deepam Functions

Below is the programme of the upcoming 2014 Karthigai Deepam at Arunachala listing just major functions over the Festival period. To view the complete programme of the upcoming 2014 Karthigai Festival as celebrated at Tiruvannamalai please go to my earlier posting at this link here.

All the photographs below are of a previous Deepam and taken from my website Arunachala Samudra, to give readers an idea of the size and energy of the crowds attending these major functions. 

To view more photographs and to read in-depth about the Arunachala Deepam Calendar go to to these link here and here.

Major functions over the upcoming 2014 Karthigai Arunachala Deepam

The below photographs are of an earlier Deepam Festival at Arunachala

Holy Flag Hoisting

Wish Fulfilling Tree (Virutcham)

Wish Fulfilling Cow (Kamadhenu)

Wish Fulfilling Tree and Kamadhenu outside Temple

Silver Rishaba

Huge Crowds for darshan of the Gods on Silver Rishaba

Maharadham being pulled around perimeter of Big Temple

Mahadeepam inside Arunachaleswarar Temple Compound

It is advised to all who intend being part of these wonderful, huge celebratory crowds that there will be people present who are not devotees. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE VALUABLES OR MONEY WITH YOU. 

16 November 2014

2014 Deepam Preparations Underway

Preparations are underway through Tiruvannamalai in connection with the upcoming 2014 Karthigai Arunachala Deepam. 

Ladies cleaning Temple lamps

Goldplating the Nagavagnam

Cleaning the Pali Peedam and fire holder

Pali Peedam in front of the Flagpost

Special Bus Services Announcement

It has been yearly practice to run special buses to Tiruvannamalai for the occasion of Karthigai Deepam. 

This year also, special buses will be run from Villupuram, Cuddalore, Pondicherry, Trichy, and other places to Tiruvannamalai. 

A total of 1100 special buses will be in service. 

Out of this, 500 are to be operated from Chennai. 

The buses will run from 4th December till 6th December. 

15 November 2014

2014 Arunachala Deepam Preparations

Preparations for Deepam begin long before the start of the Festival. This year a new Theepal has been created -- i.e. a float for the Gods to enjoy the last four days of the Festival on the waters of the Ayyakulam Tank (in front of the Arunagirinathar Temple). 

There are also lights to put up all around the Arunachaleswarar Temple and touch ups and repaintings of the various Gods and Vahanas that will be used during the upcoming Festival.

Preparing for the new Theepal, Ayyakulam Tank

Ayyakulam Tank in front of Arunagirinathar Temple

Blessings of new Theepal at Ayyakulam Tank

Completed Theepal for 2014 Karthigai Arunachala Deepam Festival

Decorating the Gopurams with electric display

Installing Lights throughout Arunachaleswarar Temple

Painting and touch-ups of the Gods and their Vahanas

Statues stored, newly painted; awaiting the 2014 Deepam Festival

13 November 2014

Significance of Rice Puja

Aippasi (the sixth month of the Tamil solar calendar) begins with the Sun's entry into Libra (Thula Rasi). When the Moon is in the constellation of Ashwini Nakshatra on the full-moon day, that month is denoted as Aippasi Masam. The duration of the day and night time is equal during this month, hence it is named as Thula masa—thula means balance (weighing scale). 

During the month of Aippasi on Ashwini Star, as declared by Lord Shiva puja is performed with cooked rice and rice food items. Rice cultivation has existed in South India since 1400 BC. Details about rice have been found in the Yajur Veda and is frequently referred to in many Sanskrit texts. Rice is often directly associated with prosperity and fertility and therefore it is customary used during weddings and other religious ceremonies. 

As by Lord Siva’s words: 

“I myself like this food as it gives energy to the whole Universe and goodness to all. Do puja to me with this food and don’t forget food is my special roopam (i.e. form).” 

Annabishegam to Kalyana Sundareswarar

As per the Agama Sastra, on paurnami day (full-moon) when it coincides with Ashwini Nakshatra during the month of Aippasi, offering rice annam to Lord Shiva will help yield good crop production, promote economic progress and thus help with the development of the nation. 

Hence Annabishekam (special abishekam with cooked rice) an annual affair during the full moon day of the Tamil Month Aippasi was performed this year on Wednesday November 5, 2014 at the Kalyana Sundareswarar Shrine at Arunachaleswarar Temple. 

Pradosham -- Tuesday November 4, 2014

The below photographs were taken on Pradosham as observed at Arunachaleswarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai on Tuesday, November 4th, 2014. 

New Arunachala Blog

A new Blog dedicated to Arunachala has recently been started by an Australian lady (Apeetha Arunagiri) who lives in India each year from July to December. The Blog is available at this link here

Apeetha Arunagiri writes: 

“This blog is an exercise: Between July and December (when I return to Australia); photographs taken from day to day will be used to ground considerations on what it means to be alive here by Annamalai at this time in history, through the lens of the concept of KaliYuga - an Age coined on this sub-continent millennia ago. Both positive and negative sides of the brilliantly paradoxical human experience will be triggered by images from this microcosmic perspective. And I do hope it sets you laughing sometimes, crying others!”

7 November 2014

Sadhus and Sannyasins at Raghavendra Shrine, Arunachala

This week to celebrate the ending of negative Shani influence in her star chart, Jacqueline Jacques arranged a feeding of sadhus at the venue of Sri Raghavendra Shrine, Girivalam Roadway (near Hanuman Temple). After about an hour of communal chanting and quiet sitting over 400 sadhus took their evening meal. 

Venue for dinner was the Sri Raghavendra Shrine, Arunachala

Chanting at Function

Chanting and group meditation proceeded dinner

Some Sadhus and Sannyasins in attendance

Function was well organised with plenty of food for all

Over 400 Sadhus and Sannyasins were given evening dinner

Feeding at Sri Raghavendra Shrine, Girivalam Roadway

4 November 2014

2014 Karthigai Deepam Arunachala Programme

Below is the programme for the 2014 Karthigai Deepam which will be celebrated at Arunachaleswarar Temple. Amongst the functions there are major events like Maharadham (December 2) and Mahadeepam (December 5) etc., upon which I will be giving more details as we get closer to Deepam. 

Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Tirukovil Tiruvannamalai 

Thirukarthigai Deepam Festival 2014 

23 November, 2014 
Sunday Night: Durgai Amman Urchavam 

24 November, 2014 
Monday Night: Pidari Amman Urchavam 

25 November, 2014 
Tuesday Night: Vinayaka Urchavam 

Right click for enlargement

26 November, 2014 
Wednesday Morning (early): Flag Hoisting 
Morning (late): Panchamoorthy Silver Vimana procession 
Night: Athigara Nandi Vahana 

27 November, 2014 
Thursday Morning: Chandrasekhara in Surya Perai Vahanam 
Night: Indira Vehanam 

28 November, 2014  
Friday Morning: Chandrasekhara in Bootha Vahanam 
Night: Shima Vahanam 

29 November, 2014 
Saturday Morning: Chandrasekhara in Naga Vahanam 
Night: Kamadhenu and Virikpaksha 

30 November, 2014 
Sunday Morning: Chandrasekhara in Rishabam 
Night: Big Silver Rishabam 

1 December, 2014 
Monday Morning: Elephant with 63 Nayanars 
Night: Silver chariot 

2 December, 2014 
Tuesday: Maharadham 

3 December, 2014 
Wednesday Morning: Chandrasekhara on Horse 
Evening: Pichandavar 
Late Night: Big Horse 

4 December, 2014 
Thursday Morning: Chandrasekhara on Purusha Meruga Vahanam 
Night: Kailasha (Ravana) Vahanam 

5 December, 2014 
Friday Early Morning: Bharani Deepam 4 a.m. 
Evening: Maha Deepam (6 p.m.) 

6 December, 2014 
Saturday Morning: God Girivalam 
Evening: Theepal Chandrasekhara 

7 December, 2014 
Sunday Night: Parashakti Theepal 

8 December, 2014 
Monday Night: Subrahmanian Theepal 

9 December, 2014 
Tuesday Night: Chandikashwara 

30 October 2014

Postings on my Arunachala Blogs September 7, 2014 to October 30, 2014

Below are links and short extracts of postings on my various Arunachala Blogs from Sunday, September 7, 2014 to Thursday, October 30, 2014:- 

Arunachala Grace 

Anna Anbhishegam November 5, 2014 -- Festival Invitation  Invitation for puja to be performed at Arunachaleswarar Temple as declared by Lord Shiva; puja is to be performed with cooked rice and rice food items. 

Pradosham -- October 21, 2014  Photographs of the Tuesday October 21, 2014 Pradosham as observed at the Arunachaleswarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai 

Parvathamalai Hill and Temple  Legends and narrative about the famous Parvathamalai Hill and Temple just 25 kms from Tiruvannamalai. Photographs of the ascent and of the sacred and powerful Mallikarjuna Temple on the summit. View of Javadhu Hill and Arunachala in the distant

October 2014 Poornima, Arunachala  Photographs of the crowds of pilgrims both at the Arunachaleswarar Temple and performing girivalam during the October 2014 Poornima at Arunachala 

October Pradosham Arunachaleswarar Temple  Photographs of the Monday October 6, 2014 Pradosham at Arunachaleswarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai 

2014 Karthigai Deepam Panthakal  Photographs and information about the Panthakal ceremony. Blessings in front of the recently completed renovation on the Maharadham which will be used during the 2014 Karthigal Deepam celebrations 

2014 Panthakal Invitation, Arunachaleswarar Temple  Invitation and details of the event of the Panthakal Ceremony at the front of Arunachaleswarar Temple which marks the official beginning of the 2014 Karthigai Deepam Festival

Sing to the Mountain  Video of song to the mountain. Extract from the Green Ant Ceremony at Uluru, Australia

2014 Navratri at Ramana Ashram  Photographs and links to video and information about the 2014 Navratri Festival as celebrated at Ramana Ashram, Tiruvannamalai 

Reunion Beat X Band, IIT Madras  Information about the Renunion Beat Band at Madras, with band member on the drums being Ramana Ashram Library’s Chief Librarian J Jayaraman. Photographs and Video

Alangarams Shakti Temples 2014 Navratri  Narrative explaining the origins and traditions of the Navratri Festival. Photographs of alangarams at major Shakti Temples at Tiruvannamalai

2014 Navaratri Kolu Display at Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram   Beautiful pictorial representation of the elaborate Kolu (Golu = doll) displays during the 2014 Navaratri at Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram

September 21, 2014 Temple Pradosham  Photographs of the recently concluded Pradosham at the Arunachaleswarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai

2014 Navaratri Function at Arunachaleswarar Temple Invitation and information about the Navaratri Functions which will take place during the 2014 Festival at the Big Temple

Relocation of Swami Nithyananda Primary Ashram  Report about the relocaction of Swami Nithyananda primary ashram from Bidadi, Karnataka to Tiruvannamalai

Development of Arunachala Samudra Website Information about sections under development on our website Arunachala Samudra 

Arunachala Mystic 

Thavathiru Veera Vairakiya Moorthy Swamigal and Parvathamalai  Story about the great saint Veera Vairakiya Moorthy Swamigal, his life on Parvathamalai and his miracles at Arunachaleswarar Temple 

Jerzy Grotowski's Journey to Arunachala  Narrative of famed international Theatre Director Jerzy Grotowski and how his life led him to his final resting place at Arunachala

Vedic Birthday Mobile App.  A Vedic Birthday mobile app brought out by the Vedic Society, Pondicherry that calculates one’s Vedic birthday

Help from Yogi Ramsuratkumar  Information about the statute and power of Yogi Ramsuratkumar at his Ashram in Tiruvannamalai. Photographs. 

A Meeting with Mookupodi Swamiyar  Fascinating narrative submitted by a reader about his meeting and experience with the Arunachala living siddhar Mookupodi Swamiyar 

Shani Pradosham September 6th, 2014   Photographs and narratives of the Shani Pradosham celebrated at Arunachaleswarar Temple on Saturday, September 6, 2014 

Arunachala Birds 

Indian Pitta (Pitta Brachyura) Narrative with photographs and video of the Indian Pitta (Pitta Brachyura) known in Tamil Nadu as Arumani Kuruvi (the six-o’clock bird)

Arunachala Land 

57 Cent Parcel near Vediappanur road   A 57 cent (just over half an acre) parcel of agricultural land up for sale at Kottangal Village near Vediappanur Road at Tiruvannamalai. Beautiful darshan of Arunachala

Beautiful parcel of land at Devanandal  Information and photographs about a beautiful 1.75 acre parcel of land avalable for purchase at Devanandal at Arunachala

Steps in Buying Property  Information and narrative with link about the steps necessary in buying property in Tamil Nadu

28 October 2014

Anna Abhishegam November 5, 2014 -- Festival Invitation

Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Tirukovil Tiruvannamalai 

In worship of Shiva on each Tamil month pujas based on stars (nakshatras) with respect to materials belonging to each star are performed to Lord Shiva. 

In continuation of this in the month of Ippasi on Ashwini Star, as declared by Lord Shiva puja is to be performed with cooked rice and rice food items. 

As by Lord Siva’s words:

“I myself like this food as it gives energy to the whole Universe and goodness to all. Do puja to me with this food and don’t forget food is my special roopam (i.e. form).” 

A person who performs abhishegam and pujas will derive all goodness as said in the “Siva Kamam”. 

On November 5, 2014 Wednesday evening at Arunachaleswarar Temple abhishegam will be done with special pujas and alankaram. 

All are Invited

22 October 2014

Pradosham -- October 21, 2014

Below are very nice photographs of yesterday’s Amavasya Pradosham (Tuesday -- October 21, 2014) as observed at Arunachaleswarar Temple. 

18 October 2014

Parvathamalai Hill and Temple

[I hope to be soon posting additional information of this Hill and also uploading photographs of Parvathamalai taken from Arunachala] 

Parvathamalai is located near Thenmadimangalam Village, 20 kms from Polur. It is part of Javadhi Hills and accessible through Kadaladi village 25 kms north of Tiruvannamalai or through Thenmadimangalam. Parvatham means mountain and Parvatha Malai as it is called, connotes “Hill of Hills” or “Queen of Hills”. Parvathamalai presents eight different shapes from eight directions around the hill. 

At the summit of the Hill is the Mouna Guruswamy Ashram and more importantly a very powerful Temple at which resides the Siva aspect in the form of Lord Mallikarjuna (i.e. White Jasmine) and the Sakthi aspect in the form of Parvatha Rani or Parvathammal. Parvathammal is also called Lordess Brahmarambika (and Maragathambika). Inside the sanctum sanctorum there are also idols dedicated to Sri Ganesha and Lord Murugan. 

Parvathamalai, Temple and Ashram on top

A Temple at this site is believed to have existed for the last 2000 years although it is not known exactly when the current Temple was constructed at the top of Parvathamalai. However a record (Malai Padu Kadaam) shows that King Maa Mannan who was ruling that area, during the year 300 A.D used to visit a Temple (at this site) frequently and worship Lord Shiva and the Goddess. It is said that 2000 years ago great yogis (Siddhas) constructed a Temple at the top of the hill for doing meditation. 

Reaching the top of Parvathamalai is an arduous task. It is a vertical mountain over 4,000 feet in height that has iron rod steps, track steps, ladder steps, and sky steps (agayapadi) not found at other such sacred mountains. The Kadapaarai Padhai section of the climb up the Hill is considered to be the toughest part of the trek. This part which is punctuated by iron rods drilled into the rocks and chains to assist during the sharp ascent is also only wide enough to accommodate one-way traffic. Thus one has to raise one’s voice voice from the bottom of this section and wait for acknowledgment from the other end before starting to climb the Kadapaarai Padhai section. 

One of the legends associated with Parvathamalai states that when Lord Hanuman carried Sanjeevini hill to revive Laxman a piece of Sanjeevenimalai fell at this spot. For this reason this particular area is famous for various herbs and shrubs which can cure the deadliest diseases. It is not just herbs that can cure disease but it is thought that the breeze alone from the Hill wafting through the plants and shrubbery is enough to help cure illnesses. 

Kadapaarai Padhai section of climb

There is a legend at Parvathamalai associated with the two saints Guru Namasivayam and Guhai Namasivayam—who were to later reside on caves on Arunachala Hill. However when Guru Namasivayam and Guhai Namasivayam stayed on Parvathamalai, they accidentally cooked and ate an unknown herbal leaf (known as ‘Karunochi – Siddha Medicine’) and regained their youth forever. 

Another legend associated with this sacred site recounts that when Lord Siva returned from the Himalayas to South India, He stepped on Parvathamalai on His way to Arunachala. 

The history of Parvathamalai is interconnected with that of the famed Sri Mallikarjunar Temple at Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh. The encompassing legend goes so: 

“Sage Siladha performed severe penance on Lord Shiva seeking a boon to have children. Two sons were born to him, Nandhi and Parvathan. Sanakadhi Rishi called on the sage and said that Nandhi would live on earth only for a short while. As a result of this prophecy Siladha fell into grief. Nandhi assured his father by saying that he would win over death by his penance on Lord Shiva.

Temple at Parvathamalai

Pleased with Nandhi’s penance, Lord Shiva appeared and made the young child His vahana (vehicle) and passed the order that devotees should come to Him only after being allowed by Nandhi. Nandhi’s place of penance at the foot of the hills at Sri Mallikarjunar Temple at Srisailam is also known as “Nandiyal”. His brother Parvathan also performed penance on Lord Siva and became the hill – Parvatha Hill – i.e. Parvathamalai”. 

This sacred place as it is under 30 kms from Arunachala is also infused with Arunachala’s radiating spiritual power. Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchipuram saw the hill in the shape of a Siva Lingam. Increasingly as the fame of Parvathamalai spreads, many devotees and pilgrims visit and climb the hill to worship at the Temple on the summit in order that they may attain bliss and enlightenment. One of the unique features of the Temple on Parvathamalai is that all may enter the inner shrine (sanctum sanctorum) in order to perform their own puja to Lord Shiva, His Goddess, Sri Ganesha and Lord Murugan. The busiest times at Parvathamalai are the days of full moon, no moon and new moon. 

Lord Mallikarjuna

It is reputed that there are Siddhars who have made this Hill their home and who keep their presence a secret only choosing to reveal themselves to few devotees of the Divine. It is believed that these Siddhars visit the Temple on the top of Parvathamalai at midnight to worship the presiding deities there. Though no one can or have seen them in physical bodies, Villagers around ‘Parvathamalai’ down below say that they can clearly hear the sound of ringing bells, blowing conch and beating drums exactly at midnight when pujas are performed by siddhars. Devas and spiritual beings from other lokas are also believed to worship on the Hill every night. 

"Siddhars have spoken volumes about Pancha Nathana Nataraja. They say that this deity is such a rarity in the Universe that even the Devas would give anything just for the chance of worshipping him. They say that on the Nataraja Abisheka days which occur in certain Tamil months (Chitra, Aani, Aavani, Purattaasi, Margazhi and Maasi), the Devas perform their worship to this deity in subtle form. This kind of worship is similar to the sookshma worship done by the Devas at the peak of the Arunachala Hill and on the Parvathamalai Hill." 

Sri Brahmaraambika

It is reported by visitors that at night many paranormal activities occur on Parvathamalai. That it is possible to experience both Jyoti Darsanam at night and also to imbibe an almost other-worldly intoxicating scent of flowers. The Goddess idol at the Temple has a dazzling smile and Divine light can often be seen on her face and cheeks. When the devotee walks away from Goddess Brahmarambika in the sanctum sanctorum, the size of the deity instead of diminishing, appears to increase in size and it seems as if the Goddess steps forward and approaches the devotee. 

View from Parvathamalai of Javadhi Hills

This place is filled with stories of miracles witnessed in one form or another. Devotees often report seeing images of both the snake and trishulam when lighting camphor in front of Lord Shiva. Some devotees have seen a nine foot King Cobra visiting the Sanctum Sanctorum for the worship and others have sight of three eagles circling the top of Parvathamalai. 

View of Arunachala from summit of Parvathamalai

For information and photographs about ascending Parvathamalai go to this link here