24 November 2007

10th Day - Arunachala Deepam

This afternoon left my home and headed for Sri Nannagaru Ashram to attend the festivities associated with the 10th day of the Deepam Festival. Decided to walk the back way through the hills and met up with a nice group of local farmers who were dressed in clothes for their upcoming pilgrimage to Lord Iyyapan at Sabrimala.

The other day when visiting the Arunachaleswarar Temple I bumped into a group of men dressed in light beige clothes. I asked them where they were going - and they told me that they were in fact 'coming' on pilgrimage from Palani (famous for Lord Murugan) to Tiruvannamalai.

In the same way traditions associated with Deepam are beginning to become entrenched in association with the Big Temple at Arunachala, so too, it seems like Tiruvannamalai is fast becoming the 'pilgrimage' destination of choice for many groups of sadhakas.

Beautiful pathway with Arunachala peeking behind the small hillock on the right. One of the neighbours dogs has decided to accompany me on my walk.

The Cattle Fair is so crowded, that some vendors have brought their cattle into the Hills.

The below is part of a shrine to Lord Munishwara, which has been recently built in this spot. Rather a fascinating looking idol!

After a pleasant walk in the afternoon's sun, I arrive at Sri Nannagaru Ashram. In the distance Chengam Road (which is part of the giripradakshina hillround roadway) is already packed with pilgrims performing their circumbulation of Arunachala.

The view of Arunachala from Sri Nannagaru Ashram.

And below Sri Nannagaru giving a spiritual discourse to his devotees. If you want to learn more about this Advaitic Master please check this link.

Sri Nannagaru hails from Andhra Pradesh and only visits us here at Arunachala about 4 times a year. When he comes he generally stays from between 7-10 days. His programme is not made a long time in advance but he traditionally visits Arunachala (which he regards as his Guru) over the Deepam period.

His speech is over and now some of his devotees are preparing a 'Deepam' inside the Ashram Compound, which will be kept alight while the light remains on top of Arunachala Hill.

Devotees sitting and waiting for the upcoming dusk and the lighting of Deepam.

It is now dusk and suddenly the light on top of Arunachala appears and you can hear the cheers and noise of crackers and fireworks resounding from all over Tiruvannamalai.

Later I go up on the roof of the Ashram and take a photograph of Arunachala outlined in the night sky. Through the haze one can see the glimmer of the Deepam light on top of the Hill.

And at Sri Nannagaru Ashram, devotees (left of photograph) are lighting little deepam lamps in front of a small Shrine and at the right the Ashram's own 'Deepam' is attracting the loving attention of devotees.

Wonderful afternoon enjoying Swamiji's presence and speech and later watching the Deepam festivities at Sri Nannagaru Ashram along with his devotees. After enjoying some very delicious prasad, I wandered up to Chengham Road to check out how crowded it is --- wall-to-wall people!



Janice said...

The photographs of Sri Nannagaru you have posted are very beautiful - he has such a peaceful quality.

Divya said...

I love your series pics, it makes me feel like I am walking right along with you, in the charming Indian countryside! And yes, Nannagaru always looks so peaceful and oozing with sweetness.

Seetha said...

meenakshi, your blog is sort of archival to a way of life which is fast getting'urbanised'.some changes aro good some are bad..but change is permanent.

i love the karumbu thotti concept . never heard of it before.

in madurai there uded to be mulaippaari.around pongal i think.i miss home more than ever!!!

Arunachala Living said...

Each year the legends and traditions of Deepam seem to increase. In this respect more families do girivalam of the Arunachaleswarar Temple with their child in a karumbu thotty year by year.