16 July 2006

Temple Services

An elaborate protocol of worship services mark each day at the Arunachaleswarar Temple where about a hundred and fifty people are attached to it, including; priests, musicians, singers, carpenters, potters, washermen, palanquin bearers, garland makers, administrators and watchmen.

The day begins with the ceremonial arrival of Ganga (holy water) to the shrine, from a tank in the Southern part of the town on an elephant through the Southern, Tirumanjana Gopuram. This water cleanses the entrance to the second prakaram, and then the next ritual involves the waking up of Shiva and Parvati in their bedchamber. The Shiva-Meru returns to the Annamalaiyaar shrine while the image of Parvati returns to the Unnamulaiamman shrine.

Six other pujas are offered at the temple, the first one at 5.30 a.m., and the last one at night where the Shiva Meru and the image of Parvati are brought in a procession into the bed chamber. Each service is accompanied by chants of dedication and praise. In the south west corner of the prakaram, the sacrificial fire ritual takes place, ending with the consecration of vessels of water which are used in the ablution of Annamalaiyaar and Unnamulai Amman.

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