13 December 2008

Deepam Lighting

I am below reproducing below an interesting newspaper report on the lighting of the 2008 Deepam at Tiruvannamalai.

“With the setting sun painting a dramatic red hue in the sky and providing a backdrop and 30 Lakh devotees loudly chanting 'Om Namah Shivaya', the maha Karthigai Deepam' was lit on top of the Tiruvannamalai hill on Thursday evening to mark the Karthigai festival.

Believed to be one of the oldest rituals in the world, the Maha Karthigai Deepam is the first to be lit atop the hill in a five feet high cauldron. It is only after the lamp is lit here that temples and people across Tamil Nadu light lamps on Karthigai festival.

This time too the 'Deepam' was lit to the joy of lakhs of devotees who gathered in the temple and around the hill but amidst unprecedented security arrangements. Lakhs of devotees climbed up the hill to catch a glimpse of the light. The flame is said to be visible for over 10 kms around Tiruvannamalai.

The cauldron is a big brass vessel designed in the form of a lamp and placed on top of the hill. It is filled with ghee and butter donated by devotees. An enormously thick wick made of loosely twisted woven fibres is immersed into the vessel and one end of the wick is drawn out. The lamp is lit around 6 pm when the full moon emerges from the east and appears on the horizon in the month of Karthigai. At the same time, in the temple, the idol of 'Ardhanarishvara' is brought out in a ceremonial manner.

‘First idols of Lord Ganesha, Muruga, Arunachaleshwara and Unnamulai are brought in procession and kept inside the 16 pillared Mandapam. Then exactly at 6 pm, Ardhanarishvara is brought out and at the same time, the lamp is lit on top of the hill. A signal using a lamp is shown from the temple to synchronise the timing. Early in the morning the 'Bharani' Deepam named after a star was lit,’ said a temple official.

Cutting across all religions, devotees make a beeline for the hill and ensure that the festival is celebrated with fervour. ‘Right from donation of ghee to making fireworks for the festival, people of all religions are involved. The lamp atop the hill also signifies one religion and one god,’ said the official.

Elaborate security arrangements were also made to prevent any untoward incident. According to a senior police official, 7,500 policemen including three deputy inspector generals of police, six superintendents of police, commando teams and 200 special task force personnel were deployed. People who were climbing the hill were prevented from carrying camphor or matchbox. Close circuit television cameras were also placed around the temple.”


Sadly a police head constable, who was posted on duty at Tiruvannamalai (along the Girivalam roadway) during the just concluded Karthigai Deepam festival died reportedly of stress on Friday morning. It is not known whether the head constable named Chandran, who was attached to the Crime Branch at Tiruthani Police Station, had any previous health complications.

He along with some 100 police personnel from the Tiruvallur district were posted for security duty at Tiruvannamalai since 9 am on Thursday. Chandran’s collegues said lack of sleep, rest and timely food had apparently caused his death. His colleagues said when Chandran was about to board the bus to return to his hometown they had heard him complaining of pain and then he swooned. He was taken to a government hospital where he was declared “brought dead.”

In another incident, a devotee who was carrying a ghee pot reportedly died of a heart attack whilst climbing Arunachala Hill on Thursday. The person was identified as a 25 year old man hailing from Perungappur Village, Villupuram District.


Louis said...

I was at Arunachala during Bharani Deepam when all the crowd was there and the security people were fantastic. It was very jolly and friendly. Very sad news that one of their own should have passed away like that.

Mitra said...

The police and the security personnel were extremely nice. We should laud their effort in doing their part for such a magnificent Deepam. May the lord arunachala bless the soul of Mr.Chandran.

Meenakshi Ammal said...

A local photographer, who spent every day mixing with the security personnel - told me today that it was heart breaking the way their comfort was neglected. No accommodation laid on, and they had to arrange their own food.

I totally agree about how excellent the security personnel were during Deepam and lets hope that in future years they get treated with LOVING CONSIDERATION by those arranging the Deepam functions.