Today, Thursday January 5th, 2017 marks flag hoisting at Arunachaleswarar Temple heralding the Uttarayana Festival. As this Festival follows so soon after Karthigai Deepam, it is not followed as lavishly compared to some other major Temples in Tamil Nadu. However at Arunachaleswarar Temple in the evenings a special puja is observed at the Siva Sannidhi, which is then daily followed by the Gods on procession around the Temple perimeter streets (mada veddhis).
Uttarayana and Dakshinayana are each comprised of six months. Uttarayana means the northern movement of the sun. The period starting from Capricorn Zodiac (Makara Rashi) up to Gemini Zodiac (Mithuna Raasi) is Uttarayana. The period when Sun leaves Gemini Zodiac is known as Kataka Sankramana and this marks the end of the Uttarayana period. This happens annually on July 15th or 16th.
“In terms of sadhana, Dakshinayana is for purification. Uttarayana is for enlightenment. Particularly, the first half of Uttarayana (until the equinox in March) is a period where a maximum amount of grace is available. This is the period of receptivity, of grace and enlightenment, of attainment of the ultimate. This is the time to harvest, and it is also the reason agricultural harvests begin during this period. Pongal is the harvest festival. So it is not only the time of harvesting food grains, but also the time to harvest human potential.”
Pongal was originally a Festival for the farming community but nowadays it is celebrated by all. It follows the solar calendar and is celebrated on the same days each year. At Tiruvannamalai (and throughout Tamil Nadu) the four consecutive days of Pongal are: 'Bhogi' January 13th, 'Pongal' January 14th, 'Maattuppongal' January 15th and 'Thiruvalluvar Day' on Jan 16.
|Lord Chandrasekhara and Goddess Parakashakti|
|Flag Hoisting at Arunachaleswarar Temple|
|Devotees watching the flag hoisting ceremony at Arunachaleswarar Temple|
|Lord Chandrasekhara being taken on procession|