During Festivals the Deities are taken in procession around the Temple. Sometimes, the deity is shown mounted on or riding their vehicle, while at other times, the vahana is shown by the Deity’s side. Many times, this vahana (vehicle) is also represented by way of symbolism, as a divine attribute. Though the vahana appears to be independent, it is part and parcel of the deity’s presence and has an meaning to it.
|The Gods receiving aarti in the Temple Mandapam|
In the case of the Lord on the Simha (lion) vehicle; the creature represents lordly power in general and the power of the wild beast in particular. The Lion, which is regarded as a royal beast represents the best in the animal creation. However, it can also represent greed for food and for objects of enjoyment -- which invariably leads to lust. The Simha Vahana as a vehicle of the Divine, represents the control of the Lord over a human being's animal instincts.
|The Panchamoorthies giving darshan, Alankaram Mandapm|
|Gods returning from Temple circumambulation|
|Lord Arunachaleswarar on the Simha (lion) Vahanam|
The golden skinned Lion is an archetypal symbol for the golden rayed sun; the lord of the day, whose appearance kills the demonic forces of the night. The Lion has always been important in mythology in India as it symbolises the solar and luminous principles of life and knowledge.
The lion also expresses the heroism and prowess necessary to defeat asuric forces and represents the heroism and strength required to walk the spiritual path.