3 December 2006


For your enjoyment this Deepam day a compilation of photographs to show the sequence of events that lead to the lighting of the Deepam on the top of Arunachala each year.

Early in the morning of the lighting of the Deepam Cauldron, hordes of pilgrims start their trek up the side of Arunachala so they can witness the actual lighting at dusk. Many bring ghee (clarified butter) which is the only fuel used inside the Cauldron, as an offering to the Sacred Hill. From down below it is easy to watch the column of devotees climb up the Hill.

Men, women, and children make their way up the slope. The first day, the actual lighting, is the most popular but in fact all through the 10 days the Cauldron will be kept alight, pilgrims climb the slope with the ghee that they personally wish to offer to the Flame on Arunachala.

Some bring small packets of ghee, others bring enormous tin containers. The top of the Hill near the cauldron is slippery and slick from the empty containers and spilled ghee.

Swathes of cloth are soaked in ghee and packed tightly into the Cauldron. The cloth will be the wick for the giant light.

Once the ghee saturated cloth has been wound and packed into the Cauldron then blocks of camphor (the lighting agent) are smashed into crevices and openings left by cloth folds.

The taper then needs to be prepared. The actual light itself has been brought up that morning from the Arunachaleswarar Temple.

Finally its time to light the giant vat with the taper, which itself has been lit by the flame brought up from the Arunachaleswarar Temple.

The crowd is densely packed at the top of the Hill and its hot and risky to be so close to the Cauldron. But the fervour and devotion of the pilgrims is such, that such matters as health or safety are hardly considered.

The brilliant flame blazes upward and outward.

From down below we view Arunachala Deepam Beacon 2006, which was lit at dusk this evening, December 3rd at around 6.05 p.m.


Dorothea said...


Thankyou so much for your wonderful site, which I found through Wikablog.

I had the pleasure of visiting Tamil Nadu for 6 months in 1989-90, and found Tamil people very kind and welcoming, with a great culture and language, which I'm still trying to learn! Your pictures and writing bring it all back to life in my mind. Its also good to see so much greenery in Tiruvannamalai.

Best wishes to you

Arunachala Living said...

Dear Dorothea:

So nice to get your warm, heartfelt message.

No wonder you still think about your time at Arunachala - it has a way of getting into your DNA. Its been way too long since you left; about time you returned!

Yes, the Hill is much greener now. This is due to a variety of reasons: the reforestation programmes of many organisations, prevention of forest fires and heavy rain during the monsoon season.

Sending you wishes of Peace and Light from Arunachala this Holy 2006 Deepam.

Divyakka said...

The photos really make us feel like we are there! Where did you get the photos? Did you actually go to the top of the hill with your ghee, too?!

Arunachala Living said...

I do have a nice stash of beautiful Arunachala photographs - some of the ones I posted came from that and some of the others I took myself.

Most importantly the last picture of the Deepam on Arunachala was taken LIVE last night, 6.05 p.m. December 3rd.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the pictures & writeup on Deepam. Had been searching all the TV Channels here (New Delhi) for some coverage, but amazingly, not one out of the 50 odd news-related ones, had anything.

Chanced upon your website just recently. Appreciate your other stories out of Tiruvannamali also & all the effort gone into them ...

Thanks a million,

Best wishes

Arunachala Living said...

Yes, I agree, amazing that there isn't some kind of live coverage in the media. Am glad that my efforts are reaching devotees of Arunachala that enjoy and appreciate them.