25 November 2015

2015 Deepam Festival. Day Ten—Evening: Mahadeepam Arunachaleswarar Temple

Lord Arunachaleswarar Gives Darshan

Deepam in Temple precedes the Deepam on Arunachala by a few seconds
After Deepam is lit, Ardhaniswarar gives darshan to devotees at Temple

Packed Temple Crowd  with eyes on Deepam, in Temple and on Hill

2015 Arunachala Deepam

[By Swami Abhisktananda 1970] 

"Towards five the singing stopped, as a procession emerged from the Kalyana Mandapam. It was the five murtis (Ganapati and Subramaniyar, the two sons of Shiva; the Bull Nandi, Shiva’s vehicle, Parvati, his consort; and finally Shiva himself) which were now coming attired in their most splendid garments and covered with flowers, to mix with the crowd so that they might have the darshan of the Holy Light. Immediately in front of the porch of the sanctuary stands a mandapam which was built in 1202 by Mangayarkarasi to provide a shelter for the Lords of the Temple during this annual function. The murtis passed through the crowd in their palanquins carried on the shoulders of the Brahmins. Once they were in their place, everyone’s attention was once more turned towards the Mountain and the chanting of mantras began again. 

The atmosphere became more and more tense. The sun had now disappeared behind the mountain, and the lengthening shadow of the mighty Linga of rock gradually spread across the sanctuary, the courtyards and the Gopurams. The great moment was drawing near for which everyone was waiting—the appearance of the Flame. Expectation filled every heart and showed on every face. It increased in harmony with the rhythm of the cosmos itself; as slowly beyond the horizon the moon rose into the sky, while in the depths of space the constellation of the Pleiades, of Krittika, appeared in the same direction. 

Suddenly there was the sound of an explosion, like a gunshot. Young Brahmin torch-bearers came running out of the inner sanctuary, brandishing their lighted torches at arm’s length. Priests offered the flame of the arati before the murti of Arunachala at its space under the mandapam. In front of the main gate a huge bronze cauldron, filled with oil, camphor and clarified butter, burst into a giant flame. 

And from the peak of the Mountain also, - on which all eyes had been fixed for the last full hour, not only in the Temple and the town, but in the whole countryside around to a distance of many leagues—the flame mounted up, manifesting both outwardly and in the heart of the faithful, the mystery of Light which from the beginning has at the same time hidden and revealed itself in Arunachala. 

That is all. The Flame has been seen. Joy and grace have filled all hearts. The crowd immediately begins to disperse, though it will be more than two hours before the Temple courts are completely empty. Each one as he leaves, goes to the bronze cauldron and casts into it his offering of camphor or of oil to be burnt up in the one great flame - a symbol of his own departure into the mystery of the Flame. 

Meanwhile the bearers up above begin their slow and difficult descent from the Mountain. They had climbed up early that morning in the first light of dawn, carrying jars of oil and clarified butter. The worthiest of their number were entrusted with bearing the sacred fire, taken from each of the Temple shrines, in order to light the Thibam flame. This had to be done at the very moment when, from their lofty observatory, they saw simultaneously the red sun disappearing in the west while the moon’s dish came over the horizon in the east. 

As soon as I left the Temple precincts amid the crow of faithful, I joined with many others in once more following the circular road round Arunachala . . . as I stepped into the cool air of the night . . . all the detailed features of the Mountain had disappeared. There was nothing to be seen but the sharp outline of its mystic triangle sketched against the sky. As the moon climbed majestically towards the zenith, it shed over it its silvery light, while all around was spread a mysterious shadow. 

The Mountain had become an immense lamp, from the top of which glittered the bright Fame. OM.” 


Itinerant Yogi said...

Wonderful. Thanks for sharing these pics with us so quickly!

Srinivas Ranganath said...

Great reporting immediately, watched it live on TV too!

Anonymous said...

Really liked reading the report of Swami.