16 December 2014

2014 Karthigai Deepam Cauldron back to Temple

The amount of time the Arunachala Deepam stays alight depends on calculations made by the Temple priests. This year the jyothi on the Hill stayed alight for 11 days. Today the cauldron, with its duty complete was carried down by men from the family of the fishing caste in charge of the cauldron for 2014. 

There are two lines of the family of the fishing caste assigned this yearly duty of lighting and maintaining the Deepam Cauldron -- these two lines alternate each year in taking up this responsibility. 

The Deepam Cauldron is carried back to Arunachaleswarar Temple, where it will be stored until the 2015 Arunachala Karthigai Mahadeepam Festival.


Anonymous said...

you write priests use calculations to determine the number of days(or is it nights?)for the cauldron to do its duty,,,,do you know if these calculations are based on astrological factors?,the amount of available ghee in a given year?,consulting an oracle perhaps?,or maybe the whim of the temple authorities play a role in this issue?,,these are all speculationsin in need of clarification,and by the way what is the approximate weight of this colossal vessel,and is it true that it forms on integral part of the hill itself,therefore equal to it in sanctity.

Meenakshi Ammal said...

Around the time of Pongal in January the priests read the panchangam, and set the date of festivals and ceremonies for the coming year. Check out:


In the case of Deepam and the length of time the jyothi stays alight, the shortest I remember is 7 days and the longest 13 days.

This year the flame was only alight for 11 days – the Festival is meant to occur during the month of Kārttikai and it would have been inauspicious for the deepam to appear during the month of Mārkazhi (which started the day the cauldron was brought down the Hill)

Sometimes there has to be a minimum of time between certain festivals, other festivals cannot be celebrated in certain months, or during particular astronomical conjunctions. It really is quite complicated.

As to your question re the ghee . . . there was plenty over.

The length of time the flame was to be alight on the Hill was announced in local papers before the festival, so no surprise it lasted only 11 days.

The cauldron is renewable – it is sanctified by pujas, but in no way associated as an integral part of the Hill. During the 30’s it actually stayed on the Hill for several years . . . and was only brought back down when it needed to be repaired or replaced. Nowadays it is taken up and down for each Deepam Festival.

From what I understand the material used for the cauldron nowadays are more lightweight thus the pot is easier to move about.