17 October 2021

2021 Navaratri Festival, Tiruvannamalai: Temple Alangarams and Kolu Displays

Each year Navaratri commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvin. The Navaratri festival or 'nine day festival' becomes a 'ten day festival' with the addition of the last day, Vijaya Dasami (day of victory) as its culmination.

In 2021 the dates of this Festival ran between Day 1, Thursday October 7 until Day 10 Vijaya Dasami Saturday October 16, 2021. The celebrations and attendance were limited in the first days at Tiruvannamalai Temples, however as a result of the ruling of a Chennai Court Case, Temples including Arunachaleswarar Temple were instructed to remain open for the last three days of the Festival. 


Alangaram of Goddess Saraswati

Origins of Navaratri

There is different mythology connected with this Festival. In one legend Mahishasura, the King of Demons started a war against the Gods. To combat him, the Gods combined their powers to give birth to 'Shakti'. The Goddess fought the demon for nine nights and on the tenth day, the Goddess slew it - thereby achieving victory over evil.

Another legend is that Goddess Uma the wife of Lord Siva and daughter of Daksha - the King of the Himalayas - is said to return home for ten days during Navaratri.

It is believed that Adi Shankaracharya gave upadesa at two primary locations during the installation of a Sri Chakra at Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh) and at Koolurmugambika (Karnataka). At the time of the installations he directed women folk to worship the Goddess and seek Her blessings for the wealth, prosperity and long life for their husbands and overall happiness in the family.

Navaratri is celebrated in many ways, depending on region, local history and family influences. Some see it as a way to commune with one's own feminine divinity. A widespread practice honours the Goddess in every woman by inviting young girls to the family's home and feeding and offering new clothes to the girls. During the Festival, women also perform tapas and selfless acts.

Kolu Displays

Families in Tamil Nadu traditionally prepare in their homes a Kolu, an exhibition of small dolls, figurines and artefacts on a stepped, decorated shelf. At least one murti of Shakti must be present, as well as wooden figurines of a boy and a girl together to invoke auspicious marriages.

For more information and details of the origins and significance of this Divine Festival visit my website at this link here.

To view unique, original photographs of the alangarams of the Divine Mother through each day of the Festival at a variety of Temples at Tiruvannamalai and spectacular Kolu displays at Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram and at the private house of Dr. K. Shanthi, Science Professor at Tiruvannamalai Arts College, visit Album archives at my website at this link here


Kolu Display at Dr. K. Shanthi's Home

22 September 2021

Pradosham Arunachaleswarar Temple: Saturday 18 September, 2021


Below are photos of the latest pradosham at Arunachaleswarar Temple which occurred on Saturday, September 18, 2021. This is the first pradosham function for a long time that few masks are on display—and very much better this looks too!



Karthigai Deepam Panthakal Function: Friday, November 19, 2021


Karthigai Deepam (which is also known as Karthigai Brahmotsavam Festival) will be celebrated this year at Arunachala on Friday, November 19, 2021. This grand festival is inaugurated two months previously with an event of the planting of the Panthakal pole. In 2021 this occurred on Thursday, September 16, 2021.


The Panthakal pole was kept near the shrine of Lord Sambandha Vinayagar where Abhishekham was performed. The panthakal was then dressed with a special cloth and garlands and planted near the front of the Raja Gopuram, the principal eastern doorway of Arunachaleswarar Temple Compound.


As well as blessing the front of the Templeoutside the Raja Gopuram, priests also blessed the newly renovated Maharadham chariot and other vehicles which will be used during processions in the upcoming 2021 Karthigai Deepam Festival. 


The below photographs are of the Panthakal Function which was performed on Thursday, September 16, 2021 at Arunachaleswarar Temple to mark the official beginning of the rituals and ceremonies preceding the Karthigai Festival (Mahadeepam is Friday, November 19, 2021). 


10 September 2021

Happy Ganesha Chatruthi 2021


Mushikavaahana modaka hastha,
Chaamara karna vilambitha sutra,
Vaamana rupa maheshwara putra,
Vighna vinaayaka paada namasthe

“SALUTATIONS to Lord Ganesha who is Brahman Himself, who is the Supreme Lord, who is the energy of Lord Siva, who is the source of all bliss, and who is the bestower of all virtuous qualities and success in all undertakings.”

Ganesha Chaturthi is a day on which Lord Ganesha makes his presence known on earth for all his devotees; the day is also termed Vinayaka Chaturthi. It is observed in the calendar month of Bhadrapada, starting on the Shukla Chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon) which comes sometime between 20th of August and 15th of September. An important part of the festival is the immersion of the Ganesha statue into tanks, wells and ponds.

Swami Shivananda Recommends:
”On Ganesha Chaturthi, meditate on the stories connected with Lord Ganesha early in the morning, during the Brahmamuhurta period. Then, after taking a bath, go to the temple and do the prayers of Lord Ganesha. Offer Him some coconut and sweet pudding. Pray with faith and devotion that He may remove all the obstacles that you experience on the spiritual path. Worship Him at home, too. Have an image of Lord Ganesha in your house. Feel His Presence in it.

Don’t forget DO NOT LOOK AT THE MOON on this day; remember that it behaved unbecomingly towards the Lord. This really means avoid the company of all those who have no faith in God, and who deride God, your Guru or your religion—from this very day. Take fresh spiritual resolves and pray to Lord Ganesha for inner spiritual strength to attain success in all your undertakings.”

Story about not looking at the moon
There is a legend associated with Ganesha Chaturthi, from the Skanda Puranam. Lord Ganesha was once invited for a feast in Chandraloka (the Moon’s abode). Ganesha being fond of sweets, ate laddus till his stomach bloated, so much so that as he got up to walk after the meal, he could not balance himself because of his huge stomach and he slipped and fell. His stomach burst and all the laddus came rolling out. Seeing this, the Moon was highly amused and burst out laughing. Ganesha got angry and cursed the Moon that it would vanish from the Universe.

Because of the Moon’s disappearance, the whole world began to wane. The gods asked Lord Siva to get Ganesha to revoke his curse. The Moon also apologised for his misbehaviour. Finally, Ganesha modified his curse saying that the Moon would be invisible only on one day of the month and would be partially seen on Ganesha Chaturthi. He also added that anyone who looked at the moon on Ganesha Chaturthi would face a false charge. This is the reason why, even today, it is considered inauspicious to look at the moon on Ganesha Chathurthi.


Vakratunda Mahakaya Stotram

Om Gam Ganapathaye Namaha ||

Vakratunda Mahakaya Surya koti Samaprabha |
Nirvighnam Kurumedeva Sarva Karyeshu Sarvada ||

Vakratunda Mahakaya Suryakoti Samaprabha is a Prayer to Lord Ganesha, to remove obstacles and bless one with success. Lord Ganesha is prayed to at the beginning of all works as He is the deity who removes obstacles.

"O Lord with Curved Trunk, One with huge body, one with the radiance of a Crore Suns
Please make all my actions Free from troubles"

Vakratunda: Curved/ Twisted Trunk; Vakra=Curved; Tunda=Trunk
Mahakaya = Huge Body; Maha=Great; Kaya=body
SuryaKoti = Crore Suns; Surya=Sun; Koti=Crore (10 million)
Samaprabha = Equal in Radiance; Sama=equal; Prabha=Radiance

Nirvighna = Without Obstacles; Nir=without; Vighna=Trouble
Kuru = (Please) Do
Me: My
Deva = Lord/ God
Sarva = all
Karyeshu = Actions; Karya=Actions
Sarvada = All the time; Sarva = All

7 September 2021

Order in Madras Courts regarding captive elephants—September 3, 2021

'Religious Sentiments Must At Times Yield To Reason And Animal's Point Of View':

To learn of progress in the Madras Court regarding captive elephants in Tamil Nadu, please follow the narrative below:-

"The Madras High Court on Friday (September 3, 2021) directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to prepare a catalogue of all captive elephants in the State. The Court further directed a video recording to be made of all elephants containing a complete profile of each elephant including its age, sex and also lineage including the manner in which the elephants came to be domesticated.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu was adjuciating upon a plea filed by activist Rangarjan Narasimhan over the alleged inhumane treatment of captive elephants kept in temples across the State. It further directed the concerned forest officials to ascertain the current practice of capturing elephants and accordingly observed.

The appropriate departments of the State Government such as the Animal Welfare or Animal Husbandry were instructed to extend all cooperation. The matter is slated to be heard next on September 24, 2021".

To read this Order from the Madras High Court in full and accompanying new journal narrative, go to this link here

Rukku (deceased) Arunachaleswarar Temple 

6 September 2021

Pradosham Arunachaleswarar Temple—Saturday, September 4, 2021


I am posting several photos of the latest pradosham at Arunachaleswarar Temple which occurred on September 4, 2021. The Big Temple is currently closed to devotees but one hopes matters will improve soon. Keep praying.

Very special photograph of Nandi

Even though devotees have not been allowed inside Arunachala Temple during weekends, Festivals and during full moons, I read today in a Tamil Nadu journal that pilgrims are regularly visiting Arunachala in spite of difficulties and restrictions, in order to make offerings in front of the Big Temple's main gate, the eastern Raja Gopuram. The article appeared at this link here.

Waiting outside Raja Gopuram

Despite the government repeatedly announcing the closure of places of worship during the weekends, Sri Arunachaleswarar Temple in Tiruvannamalai witnesses a steady flow of devotees from Friday every week. Though this is the fourth weekend when worship has been banned, devotees congregate in front of the Rajagopuram, offer prayers and leave.

Daily, on an average 1,000 devotees turn up and despite the Temple being closed to contain the spread of coronavirus, pray and light diyas at the spot and leave after going around the outer prakarams and mada veedhis (streets).

The continuous flow of devotees has its benefits as it has ensured good sales in the shops outside the Temple. A mud agal (diya) costs Rs 5 and usually a devotee lights five diyas costing Rs 25. When the devotee leaves after completing his prayers, the used diyas are again picked up by shopkeepers, cleaned, and made ready for sales to the next devotee.

“Many who come, calculate the price of the diya, oil, and wick which amounts to nearly Rs.50/- for five new diyas and hence are happy to buy used diyas for half the price,” says a long-time resident R.Sethu. The shops also provide stands for placing lit diyas. After devotees leave, the remains are either cleaned by Temple officials or shopkeepers who chip in to do their bit.

The same is the case with Pournami Girivalam. Devotees quietly undertake the banned trek either on two-wheelers or by walk. As the path joins the national highway 66 after crossing the Indra, Agni, and Yama lingams, devotees undertake circumambulation of the Annamalai hill before going home too.

1 September 2021

Power of Sound—The Solfeggio Frequencies

“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”
[Albert Einstein]

Solfeggio Frequencies are a collection of musical sounds that originated from the historical Gregorian Monks who chanted different frequency tones during religious practices.

The chanting is named after St. Gregory the Great, who was Pope from 590—604 A.D. The melodic sounds of the Gregorian era are unique with no patterns of rhyme or instrumentals. The tones range high and low and there is often no structure to how they are performed by choirs.

In 1974 Dr. Joseph Puleo studied the Solfeggio Frequencies and said the music penetrates the conscious and subconscious mind. He used a numerological technique to decipher repeating codes that were present throughout the music. The Solfeggio Frequencies are used in the present day in many forms of healing practices across the world. Each frequency tone is said to raise vibration.

The different Solfeggio Frequencies are:-

174 Hz: For the relief of Pain and Stress
285 Hz: Heals Tissues and Organs
UT 396 Hz: Eliminates Fear
RE 417 Hz: Wipes out Negativity
MI 528 Hz: Repairs DNA and Brings Positive Transformation
FA 639 Hz: Brings Love and Compassion
SOL 741 Hz: Repairs Cells and Organs
852 Hz: Awakens Intuition and Raises Energy at Cellular Level
963 Hz: Connects to Higher Self

All Solfeggio Frequencies are said to have a positive outcome by eliminating negativity and promoting higher connections to the Self.

Below is a video of all 9 Solfeggio Frequencies that promote emotional and physical healing. Wishing all the Blessings of Arunachala Grace and Light.

21 August 2021

Pradosham August 20, 2021: Arunachaleswarar Temple

Below are photographs of Pradosham observed at Periyar Nandi, 5th Prakaram, Arunachaleswarar Temple on Friday, 20 August, 2021.

20 August 2021

Progress of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Shrine construction Girivalam Roadway: August 2021


The below photographs were taken last Friday, August 13, 2021 and show the progress of the Sri Shirdi Sai Shrine construction, located on Girivalam Roadway where it meets Kanji Road. The Trustees of this upcoming Shrine, plan to instal the statues of Lord Ganesha and Lord Murugan on Ganesh Chaturthi, Friday, September 10, 2021.

Varalakshmi Vratam: Friday—20 August, 2021


Varalakshmi Vratam also known as Varalakshmi Pooja is an important Hindu festival celebrated in the honour of Goddess Lakshmi. Varalakshmi Vratam is primarily observed by married women to receive blessings from Varalakshmi, a manifestation of Goddess Lakshmi. Varalakshmi is the bestower of 'Var' or 'Varam' meaning boons.


It is observed on the second Friday or on the Friday just before Poornima of Shravan month (Aadi month in the Tamil calendar). It corresponds to the months of July or August. This year it falls on this day, Friday, August 20, 2021.


For excellent and extensive information about how and when to perform Varalakshmi Puja and other fascinating information, visit this link here.


The main objective of Varalaksmi Vratam is to offer genuine prayers to Goddess Lakshmi to seek Divine blessings. There are no strict rules for observing this vrat. The rituals are not rigid and even a simple prayer is enough to appease Goddess Varalakshmi. Women, particularly married ones, perform this vrat to please Goddess Lakshmi and receive Her divine grace. They pray to the Goddess for the long life of their husbands and seek blessings for children.

Let Goddess Lakshmi bless you

with all eight forces on this

Varalakshmi Vratam festival.

Sri (Wealth)

Bhu (Earth)

Saraswati (Learning)

Priti (Love)

Kirti (Fame)

Shanti (Peace)

Tushti (Pleasure) and

Pushti (Strength)

19 August 2021

Sundaramurthi Nayanar Festival: August, 2021


The photos below are of the Sundaramurthi Nayanar Festival held at Arunachaleswarar Temple in the second week of August, 2021.

Sundaramurthi Nayanar flourished in the 8th century. He was a great devotee of Lord Siva and one of the Tamil Samaya Acharyas (four Tamil religious Teachers). Sundarar had the Sakhya Bhava or the attitude of a friend towards the Lord and freely demanded of the Lord whatever he wanted.

Another reason this saint is famed at Tiruvannamalai is because of his role as an emissary of Lord Siva during the Thiruvoodal Festival which is enacted at this place at the time of Pongal. To read more about this Saint, and of the Thiruvoodal Festival go to this link here.

Sundaramurthi Nayanar

Nayanars, 2nd Prakaram, Arunachaleswarar Temple

7 August 2021

Petition Regarding Temple Elephants

Below is an update (Friday, August 6, 2021) of a current petition at the Madras High Court regarding the status of Temple Elephants in Tamil Nadu.

Petition Regarding Temple Elephants

"It is time to stop any more elephant being domesticated or taken into captivity, except in case of injury or disability, and that, too, only by forest officials in special enclosures maintained in forest areas, the Madras High Court wrote on Thursday.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu made the observation in an interim order on a public interest litigation petition. It was filed by activist Rangarajan Narasimhan of Srirangam, complaining about the ill-treatment of temple elephants.

The activist told the court that many temple elephants did not have regular mahouts with whom they developed a bond and the pachyderms were made to stand in the same place for hours, besides being lodged in small enclosures.

Claiming that the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister had recently made a call to people to donate elephants to temples, he wondered what the necessity was for religious institutions to own elephants.

Referring to the religious references to Lord Vishnu having descended on earth to save an elephant from a crocodile, the litigant said, “Religion does not insist on keeping animals in captivity. It has only become a fashion statement to donate elephants to temples.”

To read the full narrative go to this link here

Rukku at Temple

The last elephant at Arunachaleswarar Temple was Rukku who at the young age of 30 years, passed away inside the compound of the Temple at 12.30 a.m. on Thursday March 22, 2017. For information regarding her antecedents, live and death, go to an earlier narrative at this link here

The below photo is of her interment outside the eastern walls of the Arunachaleswarar Temple Compound.

Rukku's Interment next to East Wall of Temple

The Shrine is south of the Amman Ammani Gopuram east wall

The last photograph is of Rukku in happier times, walking to Adiannamalai in July 2012, to participate in a function at the Temple at that place.

Beautiful Rukku

23 July 2021

Guru Purnima Tuesday, 24 July, 2021

Guru Purnima is traditionally celebrated on full moon day in the month of Ashadh (July-August) of the Hindu calendar. Guru Purnima (which falls this year on Saturday, July 24th) is the day on which the Guru is revered by devotees. Sri Dakshinamurti is an aspect of Lord Siva as the primordial master, the personification of ultimate awareness, understanding and knowledge.

At Arunachala the manifestation of Lord Siva as Dakshinamurti is celebrated as the ‘silent Guru’. This day also celebrates the birth of the great author Veda Vyasa who wrote the epic Mahabharata.

Guru Purnima Timing 2021

Tithi starts at 10:43 AM on July 23, Friday
Tithi ends at 8.06 AM on July 24, Saturday

Lord Siva and His Worship

During the absence of Devi, when Lord Siva was alone, the sons of Brahma, (sages: Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumara) went to have Darshan of Lord Siva. They prostrated before Him and entreated the Lord to teach them how to remove avidya and attain salvation. They admitted that in spite of their vast study of scriptures they had no internal peace and needed to learn the inner secrets—by knowing which they could attain salvation.

"Lord Siva, hearing this appeal made by the sages, assumed the form of Dakshinamurti and remaining as the Guru Supreme, began to teach them the inner secrets by keeping Mouna and showing the “chinmudra” by His hand. The sages began to meditate on the lines shown by the Lord and attained the state of inexpressible and illimitable joy. Thus Lord Siva came to be known as Dakshinamurti".
[By Swami Sivananada]

Sri Ramana Maharshi on Dakshinamurti

Ramana Maharshi: Lectures may entertain individuals for a few hours without improving them. Silence on the other hand is permanent and benefits the whole of humanity.

Devotee: But silence is not understood.

Ramana Maharshi: It does not matter. By silence, eloquence is meant. Oral lectures are not so eloquent as silence. Silence is unceasing eloquence. The Primal Master, Dakshinamurti, is the ideal. He taught his Rishi disciples by silence.

Devotee: But then there were disciples for Him. It was all right. Now it is different. They must be sought after and helped.

Ramana Maharshi: That is a sign of ignorance. The power which created you has created the world. If it can take care of you, it can similarly take care of the world also.
[Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi]

Shiva: The Adiyogi

The sacred day of Guru Poornima marks the first transmission of the yogic sciences from Shiva—the Adiyogi or First Yogi—to the Saptarishis, the seven celebrated sages on the banks of Lake Kantisarovar (near Kedarnath Temple in the Himalayas). Thus, the Adiyogi became the Adi Guru or the First Guru on this day. The Saptarishis carried this knowing offered by Adiyogi throughout the world. Even today, every spiritual process on the planet draws from the "knowing" created by Adiyogi.

The story goes that over 15,000 years ago, a yogi appeared in the upper regions of the Himalayas. Nobody knew what his origins were but his presence was extraordinary. He exhibited no signs of life, but for occasional tears of ecstasy that rolled down his face. After the crowds of onlookers dispersed, seven men remained. When the yogi opened his eyes, they pleaded that he share his experience with them. He ignored them, but as they persevered the yogi gave them a simple preparatory step and closed his eyes again.

Days rolled into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, but the yogi’s attention did not fall upon them again. After 84 years of sadhana, on the summer solstice that marks the advent of Dakshinayana (the earth’s southern run), the yogi looked at them again. They had become shining souls that could be no longer ignored. On the next full moon day, the yogi turned south and sat as guru to these seven men. Shiva thus became Adi Guru and expounded spiritual truths to the seven disciples. The seven were to be known as Saptarishis, who took their knowledge around the world.

Guru Purnima is held sacred in the yogic tradition because the Adiyogi opened up the possibility for a human being to evolve consciously. The seven different aspects of yoga that were put in these seven individuals became the foundation for the seven basic forms of yoga, something that has still endured.

In honour of this divine personage, spiritual aspirants and devotees either perform Vyasa Puja on this day, or worship their own spiritual preceptor. Saints, monks and men of God are honoured and entertained with acts of charity by householders with faith and sincerity. The period Chaturmas (the "four months") begins from this day; Sannyasins stay at one place during the ensuing four rainy months, engaging in the study of the Brahma Sutras and the practice of meditation.

The day of Guru Poornima is supposed to herald the settling in of the rains and is thus a time that aspirants commence or resolve to intensify their spiritual disciplines. The Srutis say: "To that high-souled aspirant, whose devotion to the Lord is great and whose devotion to his Guru is as great as that to the Lord, the secrets explained herein become illuminated".

Spiritual Teachings of the Sadguru
The upa-agama, Devilottara is the essence of all Agama Sastra and explains the supreme wisdom to be attained by mature souls and their mode of life, expounded by the Lord Siva to Devi.

This dialogue conveys the highest spiritual teachings between the Sadguru Lord Siva and His most surrendered devotee the Goddess Parvati.

To read these teachings go to this link here