11 December 2015

2015 Karthigai Festival: Prayascitta Ceremony

2015 Arunachala Deepam

In the Introduction of the Section entitled Prakarama, Vimanas, Gopurams on my web site Arunachala Samudra, I make mention of the four purification ceremonies (prayascittas) previously observed at the top of Arunachala, for which priests used to go up to the summit of the mountain. Nowadays the only prayascitta ceremony (purification) regularly observed on the summit of Arunachala is after the completion of the Karthigai Festival. 

"Tiruvannamalai is one of the major sacred places of Tamil Nadu not only because of its great mountain Arunachala, but also because of its huge Arunachaleswarar Temple dedicated to Lord Siva and also to the many and frequent festivals which occur at this place. 

The mythology of the Lingodbhavamurti, the column of light (which is unvarying in all its parts whether it be the top or bottom) commemorates that there is no actual difference of any part of Arunachala. However even though Arunachaleswarar Temple is fully identified with Arunachala, for which it is also a substitute—certain variations between the bottom and top of the Hill were previously recognised four times a year by observance of purification ceremonies (prayascittas) for which priests used to go up to the summit of the mountain. 

Those four times were: Mahasivaratri Festival acknowledging the supremacy of Lord Siva, the Marriage Ceremony celebrating the union of Lord Siva with the Goddess, Karthigai Festival with its multitude of legends and symbolism, and the fourth and last purification ceremony represents separation from the Goddess and the renewed manifestation of the supremacy of Siva the great Yogi. 

However over the years the difficulties of the climb for aging gurukkals and other factors has led to less emphasis being paid to these purification ceremonies occurring on the summit of the Hill itself and nowadays the only prayascitta regularly observed on the summit of Arunachala is after the completion of the Karthigai Festival."

2015 Karthigai Prayascitta Ceremony on Arunachala Summit

Purification Ceremony end of 2015 Karthigai Festival

Arunachaleswarar Temple Priest performing Ceremony

Summit of Arunachala end of 2015 Karthigai Deepam

Lord Shiva's Feet Summit Arunachala

After the Cauldron is brought down from the Hill and returned to its permanent resting place inside the Arunachaleswarar Compound, an additional purification ceremony is observed in connection with the Deepam Cauldron.

2015 Karthigai Deepam Cauldron back at Temple


Itinerant Yogi said...

Another wonderful post Meenakshi. Happy to see you blogging again!

Anonymous said...

I've never even heard of this puja being performed on the top of the Hill. Let alone seen photos of it. Wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this information and great photographs. All this is new to me and I think only available on your sites.