16 April 2022

Chitra Pournami 2022: Early morning crowds


The largest Arunachala girivalam crowds are experienced at the time of Karthigai Mahadeepam. However after thatthe second most attended girivalam is held to be that performed at the time of Chithirai Pournami. 

This year Tiruvannamalai District is set to witness up to 2 million devotees for the occasion of Chithirai Pournami. The three photographs posted below are of the early build-up of devotees here to observe this significant occasion.


Devotees near Alankaram Mandapam, in front of East Gate of Temple. Arunachala in background.

Early morning crowds milling around on Car Street

Devotees on the streets of Tiruvannamalai for the occasion of 2022 Chitra Pournami


Significance of 2022 Chitra Pournami


The 2022 Chitra Pournami is being observed at Arunachala on the full moon day of Chithirai (i.e. April-May). This year the full moon falls between April 16-17, 2022. The time of Chitra Pournami is regarded as one in which to satisfy Chitragupta, the chief accountant of Yama, who is believed to record the commissions and omissions by men in order to punish or reward them after their death. 

Chitra Pournami is said to be conducive to human happiness. Further, if the occasion happens to fall on a Thursday, Saturday or Sunday, it is considered specially auspicious and important. 

Chitragupta is the God responsible for tracking people through their lives to determine where they go after they die. He is the son of Lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe. 

In one version of the creation myth of Chitragupta, it is said that Lord Brahma gave the land of the dead over to the god Yama. Yama was confused at the number of dead souls who came to him, and would sometimes send the wrong soul to heaven or to hell. Lord Brahma commanded Yama to keep better track of everyone but Yama explained it was not possible to keep track of life forms in all the three worlds. 

Lord Brahma, determined to solve this problem for Yama, sat in meditation for many thousands of years. Finally he opened his eyes, and a man stood before him with a pen and paper. As Chitragupta was born of Lord Brahma’s body, Brahma declared that his children would forever be known as Kayasthas. As he was first conceived in Brahma’s mind, or "chitra", and then made whole in secrecy, or "gupta", away from the other gods, he was named Chitragupta. 


Chitragupta: Keeper of the Registry


Chitragupta is sometimes also referred to as the first man to use letters. He is known as being meticulous, and tracks with pen and paper every action of every sentient life form, building a record of them over the course of their life so that when they die the fate of their soul can be easily determined. 

At the time of birth and death of an individual, adjustments in his accounts are made, either in the shape of fresh entries or by the removal of certain entries already in existence. The consciousness controlling this adjustment is Yama, the god of death and his accountant Chitragupta stands figuratively for the cosmic ledger of the accounts of jivas’ commissions and omissions—physical, emotional or mental. 

These complete documents are referred to in mystical traditions as the “Akashic” records, and as they contain the actions of each person from birth to death, they can be said to contain every action taken in the Universe. 

Items associated with Chitragupta in his puja include writing paper, pen, ink, honey, betel nut, matches, mustard, sugar, sandalwood and frankincense. A puja is often performed to Chitragupta in reverence of the four virtues he is seen to embody: justice, peace, literacy, and knowledge. Part of the Chitragupta puja also includes writing down how much money you make in your household, and how much you need to make to survive in the following year, while making offerings of turmeric, flowers, and vermilion. 


2022 Arunachala Tamil New Year: Ner Annamalaiyar Lingam


The Ner Annamalaiyar Lingam Shrine and Mandapam is located on the Arunachala girivalam roadway in an exact axial line opposite to Arunachaleswarar Temple on the other side of the Hill.


The early morning sun on Tamil New Year i.e. April 14 first falls directly onto the Lingam in this Shrine–this phenomenon can only be viewed on this day. Traditionally each year on this date, large crowds gather at this Temple for this special Surya darshan. 


Early morning light comng into shrine to illuminate the Lingam

Ner Annamalaiyar Lingam   

Devotees in Ner Annamalaiyar Lingam Shrine

Aarti being performed in Ner Annamalaiyar Lingam Shrine


18 March 2022

Arunachala Girivalam: 2022 Paguni Month Full Moon


The below photographs are of devotees performing Arunachala Girivialam during this 2022 Paguni month Full Moon. It is welcoming to view the beginning of the inflow of devotees returning to Arunachala. 




1 March 2022

Happy Mahashivaratri 2022


To understand the significance of Mahashivaratri visit an earlier posting at this link here which gives an indepth explanation of the legends associated with this great Festival. 




21 January 2022

Festival Season in other States


I was sent this wonderful image of how this Pongal Season is known in other States around the Country. 


Festival Greetings from many States


15 January 2022

Pongal Festival 2022: Tiruvannamalai and Arunachaleswarar Temple


Uttarayana Brahmotsavam festival Flag Hoisting

The annual celebration of the Uttarayana Brahmotsavam festival took place on Wednesday, 5th January 2022 at Arunachaleswarar Temple with a flag hoisting ceremony.

This time known as Uttarayana marks the Sun's movement in the skies. The periods of 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 and Uttarayana is for enlightenment. The first half of Uttarayana (until the equinox in March) is particularly believed to be a period when a maximum amount of grace is available. This is a time of receptivity, grace and enlightenment and of the attainment of the ultimate. It is the time to harvest and is the reason agricultural harvests begin during this period. 


An important part of the celebration of this change of the Sun's movement in the skies is the festival of Pongal which follows Uttarayana Brahmotsavam.

Pongal is not only a festival for crops and food grains but also an auspicious opportunity to harvest human potential.

Although originally Pongal was a Festival for the farming community—nowadays it is celebrated by all. It follows the solar calendar and each function occurs on the same day each year.

At Tiruvannamalai (and throughout Tamil Nadu) the four consecutive days of Pongal are:-

'Bhogi' January 13th
'Pongal' January 14th
'Mattupongal' January 15th, and
'Thiruvalluvar Day' on Jan 16

The below photographs taken on Mattupongal January 15, are of the lavishly decorated Lord Nandi at Arunachaleswarar Temple.



For full information about the day of Mattupongal, visit an earlier posting at this link here.

14 January 2022



Best Wishes for a Joyful Pongal 2022




1 January 2022

Arunachala Blessings 2022


With thoughts of Love and Grace for a Blessed 2022

"In the Dravidian region of South India, there is the greatest place called Arunachala, dearest to Chandrasekara. It is the abode of Shiva and yogis. Arunachala is to this world what the heart is to the whole body. It is everything for Shiva. For the benefit of the world, Shiva took the form of a mountain and settled himself as Arunachala. 


There is no sacred place like Arunachala, there is no better discipline than devotion. There is no better protection than that afforded by vibhuti. There is no happiness superior to detachment. There is no position superior to salvation. If other kshetras are abodes of Shiva, Arunachala is the absolute form of Shiva himself." 

[Skanda Purana]

Arunachaleswarar Temple Pradosham: Friday December 31, 2021

The photographs below are of the last Pradosham of 2021. This Shukra Pradosham occurred on  Friday, December 31 and its particularly cheering to see the pradosham attended by so many devotees. 



27 December 2021

Sri Ramana Maharshi Jayanthi: Tuesday December 21, 2021


The below photographs were taken at Sri Ramanashramam, Tiruvannamalai on the day of the celebration of Bhagavan's Jayanthi on December 21, 2021.


Arudra Darshan Lord Nataraja Abhishekam and Deeparathani: December 20, 2021


Below are photographs of the abhishekam and deeparathani performed on Lord Nataraja and the Goddess at the Arunachaleswarar Temple, 1000 Pillar Hall on Wednesday, January 11, 2017. Arudra Darshan is observed in the Tamil month of Margazhi (December–January). It takes place at the time of the full moon (along with Arudra Birth Star) and is the longest night of the year. 



This function celebrates the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva, which is represented by the Nataraja form. The term 'Nataraj' means 'King of Dancers' (nata = dance; raja = king). Arudra denotes a red flame and Lord Siva has also a name called "Semporjyoti" or "Golden Red Flame," and thus Nataraja is the manifestation of Siva as a Light.


The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva represents five activities–Creation, Protection, Destruction, Embodiment and Release–thereby representing the continuous cycle of creation and destruction. It is believed that the energy from this dance of bliss (Ananda Tandavam) sustains the cosmos, and when Siva is finished with this dance, the Universe will end and a new one will begin.

This Festival is in particular celebrated in a grand manner in the five Sabhas of Sri Nataraja. Lord Shiva as Nataraja (Lord of the Dance) performs the Tandava–the dance in which the Universe is created, maintained, and resolved. The five places where Lord Nataraja performed His Tandavam are collectively known as Pancha Sabhas meaning Five Assembly Halls of Lord Nataraja.


(1) Kanakasabha (Gold) at Chidambaram, Ananda Tandavam (Dance)

(2) Velli Sabhai (Silver) at Madurai, Sandhya Tandavam (Dance)

(3) Ratnasabha (Ruby) at Tiruvalankadu , Oordhva Tandavam (Dance)

(4) Tamrasabha (Copper) at Tirunelveli, Muni Tandavam (Dance)

(5) Chitrasabha at Kutralam, Tripura Tandavam (Dance)




In this festival at Arunachaleswarar Temple, Abhishekam of Lord Nataraja takes place early in the morning and He and the Goddess then come outside amongst  devotees. Only a few times a year is the statue of Lord Nataraja brought out of its permanent home at the 2nd Prakaram of Arunachaleswarar Temple.


For more information and photographs about the performance of this Festival at Arunachaleswarar Temple, please visit an earlier post at this link here.