17 December 2014

Arunachala Deepam Cauldron Puja

Individual devotees, organisations and Ashrams donated to Arunachaleswarar Temple towards the purchase of ghee for the recently completed 2014 Karthigai Deepam. In addition individual devotees climbed Arunachala over the duration of the Karthigai Festival to personally deliver their own ghee offerings, often in the form of small packets and bottles. 

This year the flame on top of Arunachala, remained alight continuously for 11 days and at no time was the flame allowed to go out. Each day over 150 kgs of ghee (clarified butter) were fed to the flame. 

Puja before the pot is put into storage at Big Temple

The giant cauldron took 10 men (from the fisherman caste) more than three hours to haul to the top of Arunachala. Women are not involved to carry the Cauldron or tend it whilst it's on the Hill. However women are always welcomed on the Hill during the Deepam Festival. 

Each Cauldron is used for about 10 years before being replaced. The current one was first used in 2004. When it is time to create a new Cauldron, the old one will be taken to metal workers to be broken up and recycled in the production of the new pot. Each pot takes around Rs.10,000 to make. After Deepam the Cauldron was taken down the Hill by the same fisher-folk and after puja at Arunachaleswarar Temple, is kept in storage there until the next year.


Divya said...

Thanks for the interesting details!

Meenakshi Ammal said...

Another interesting detail about this year's Festival is an estimated crowd of 2 lakhs i.e. 200,000 people came within the 24 hour period of Mahadeepam.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I was allowed to break camphor with my own hands and put it in a huge cauldron just days before Deepam. We could pay Rs. 100 or Rs. 500 or Rs. 1,000 towards the cost of the ghee. I was a very fulfilling exercise considering I couldn't climb the mountain to personally deliver the ghee.

Did you say the cauldron is changed every 10 years and the current one was first used in 2004. If they will be using a new one in 2015, I wouldn't mind donating towards it.

Great coverage Meenakshi. I think I like yours over the TV and internet news coverage because it is all for the love of Arunachala and nothing else.

Meenakshi Ammal said...

Every year the Temple takes donations towards the purchase of Deepam Ghee.

I will check re when the new Deepam pot is scheduled to replace the current pot and post the information when I have it on Arunachala Grace.

I was a bit more organised with my Deepam coverage this year . . . thanks for the thumbs up.

Anonymous said...

They gave us coupons for the donation and we could exchange it for the black residue from the Deepam. It is called myeee.

The temple refused to mail it because of international security reasons but I was allowed to collect one plastic container for each coupon I had.

The first year I donated a lump sum and got only one container. The next year, I got smart and donated in 100s and got many coupons and many containers that I am using every day. :-)

Sweet Arunachala is with me in a very far off land.

Meenakshi Ammal said...

Its still possible to donate each year to the Big Temple towards purchase of ghee for the cauldron. However the prasad from this year's Deepam cauldron will only be distributed in mid January 2015.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I sent in my cheque a few days ago but I doubt very much that they will send me the myeee by international mail.

I just have to be satisfied with lighting a lamp in my puja room at the time they did in Tiruvannamalai and then put the yesteryears myeee on my forehead.

Meenakshi Ammal said...

The thing is up to about 3 years ago, Deepam prasad came in little flat sachets.

Unfortunately nowadays the Temple distributes the Deepam prasad in large thimble-like containers (with a cap) which are VERY difficult to pack.

Last year I sent prasad to a number of people and had a difficult time packing the thimble containers so they wouldn't be crushed and spill open inside the package.

Maybe that is the reason the Temple are reluctant to send out Deepam prasad via International mail any longer.

As to security concerns, have found that with good labelling and declaration regarding content, prasad goes through nicely.

However I remember some years back when I was with Sri Sathya Sai Baba at Puttparthi. I airmailed a packet of sachets of vibhutti prasad which He had blessed to a friend in Canada.

The package was held up Canada for months where the contents underwent lots of laboratory tests. After a long delay their customs kindly re-packed everything up nicely and labelled the whole thing with laboratory testing logos.

Happy to report the prasad was eventually received by the group in Canada. So Sri Satya Sai's blessings did not go amiss.

Undoubtedly Deepam prasad sent from here will also receive such loving Divine Grace.

Divya said...

Wow, that is an incredible story about the vibhutthi being held up for months, I wonder if that was around the anthrax scare time?! Good point about those little containers of Tiru prasad being hard to mail, especially because the flat sachets worked perfectly well before (much to my surprise, you'd think the sticky prasad would leak or otherwise would cause problems in the mail, but my lovingly sent packet arrived perfect every time).

Meenakshi Ammal said...

Well it must have been quite baffling for customs security to open a package and find lots of white powder . . . could have been one of a number of things, most of which are prohibited.

Would have loved to seen the faces of the lab technicians after they ran their tests on the vibhuti. They must have been perplexed why someone would want to send cow dung ash and wood ash as a presentation!