The Flag Hoisting ceremony which took place at Arunachaleswarar Temple early this morning (Saturday, December 3rd, 2014) marks the first day of the 2016 Karthigai Deepam Festival at Arunachala.
Symbolically, hoisting the flag suggests setting out to conquer, and a devotee comes to the Temple to conquer his ego and gain control over his baser nature with the help of the Supreme Being. The Sanskrit word for the flag is ‘Dhvaja’ and it means whatever is raised. In the religious sense, whatever raises man to a higher level of understanding and activity is a ‘Dhvaja.’ The flag also suggests hope and desire to overcome ignorance. A Temple visit invigorates the devotee, recharging him with strength and bravery to face hardships knowing that ultimately those who have surrendered to the will of God find victory.
Kings of old in order to exhibit their Lordship over their kingdom and proclaim their continuing rulership would hoist a flag above their battlements or palace. The Dhvaja which suggests the victory of good over evil is a symbol of victory and superior wealth. It signifies commanding respect, patriotism and kingship. The flag nowadays is raised to honour God who is seen as the King of Kings—the Supreme Power.
The history of a Temple flag on the Dwajasthambam (Dwajasthambam—Flag Pole) is that it marks an inauguration of a major Utsava at the Temple. The flag also serves as a signal to indicate to the people of the town and visitors that an Utsava is on. Dhwajarohanam is a public act of sankalpa (an action made to impress an idea on the mind) which indicates a vow undertaken (in this case) by the people of the town to celebrate Brahmostavam.
Old customs dedicated that no-one present within the town limits on the occasion of the Dhwajarohanam was expected to leave the town or do any other thing such as marriage etc., until after the end of the Festival. The close of the Festival is marked by the Dhwajavarohanam or the lowering of the flag.
|Inside Temple looking out at Flagpole|
|To the right Gods under Pandal watching the ceremony|
|Raising of the Flag, 2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival commences|
|The Gods under Pandal near flagpost|
|Large crowd attended the commencement of 2016 Deepam Festival|
|Crowd watching ceremony in 3rd Prakaram|