5 December 2014

2014 Arunachala Karthigai -- Bharani Deepam

'The all-pervading quiet of early morning is suddenly disrupted by a mad clamor of thunderous sound. Ringing bells, pounding drums and piercing nagaswarams (temple horns) almost overpower the belting voices of hundreds of devotees who are singing songs in praise of Siva, the Lord of Arunachala. It is 4:30 am on the 5th December, 2014, and the main sanctum sanctorum of the massive Tiruvannamalai Arunachaleswarar Temple is packed with souls who have been waiting all night for this moment. 

The chief priest has just finished a simple ritual called Bharani Deepam and now ceremoniously waves a huge camphor flame in the direction of nearby Arunachala mountain. Although he is chanting Sanskrit slokas, he cannot be heard amidst the deafening furor of devotion that surrounds him. Finally, he touches the flame he is holding to the wicks of five huge, earthen, ghee-filled pots, representing the sacred elements; earth, air, fire, water and ether. 

As these five flames loom up with red-yellow light, the famous, one-day, South Indian festival of Krittika Deepam officially begins. A single flame is then taken from the pots and kept burning in the Temple throughout the day as a symbol of the merging of manifestation back into God, the one source of all. This single flame is referred to as the Bharani Deepam. 

Significance "There is immense significance in this ceremony called Bharani Deepam. At this time, the universal Lord manifests as the five elements, which will later fully merge to become one when the Krittika Deepam flame is lit in the evening. From one to many and many to one. This is the whole essence of Saivism and the meaning of Krittika Deepam." 

Town's people and pilgrims from far afield, are climbing Arunachala some in order to secure a good viewing point for the evening's lighting of the 2014 Deepam cauldron, others so that they can personally deliver their ghee offerings to the top of Arunachala and some to just touch the cauldron that will hold the flame that will be lit that evening. From the town, the stream of people climbing up the slopes of Arunachala look like a line of tiny ants. 

Around 10:00 a.m. this Bharani morning, a group of fishermen will be blessed by a priest in a ceremony at the Temple. Amidst ringing bells and temple music, the priest will give the fishermen a lamp in a protected container that has been lit from the Bharani Deepam in the Temple. After the consecration ritual, the fishermen take off up the mountain. It will take them about four hours to carry the flame to the top of Arunachala. 

This lamp, also called Bharani Deepam, will be taken to the top of the Hill by fishermen from hereditary fishing families. Others of the same hereditary fishing family will remain at the Temple and this evening light the Deepam flame outside the Arunachaleswarar Siva Sannidhi.'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Always such amazing photographs. It makes me feel like I am there.