In a few days will be the biggest day of the Karthigai Deepam holiday, the lighting of the flame atop Arunachala. This is on the full moon night in the Tamil month of Karthigai. This is the time of year when the most people visit Tiruvannamalai.
In the days before the full moon night, in town, there are a series of religious festivals. These mainly consist of processions of the gods from the Arunachaleswara Temple through the city streets around the temple complex. In other places in town that are on the pradakshina route there will be many vendors’ stands set up, since this will be the biggest sales opportunity of the year. Usually the crowd estimates for those who will circumambulate Arunachala are in the range of 1.5 to 2 million people. (Tiruvannamalai is a small city of about 300,000 people).
To see the processions over the last two days, view these posts from last year, listed below the picture.
Here are Lord Annamalai and his consort, Unnamalai, from the first day procession.
The vendors (and others who want to attract visitors) start setting up almost one week before the ‘big day.’
One thing that surprised us was to see Nithyananda signs go up around the Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam again. This has been closed since the scandal broke, and all the many Nithyananda signs here and around Tiruvannamalai had been taken down. Is he back? I did see something on the Internet to the effect that he was again teaching. Maybe he is coming to town? I guess if he wants to make a comeback, to have the million or so Indians that walk past these signs and announcements would be a good way to get the word out.
We can’t read the Tamil, but there will be some event here on the 29th of some month. We think this is probably 29 November. Will he be here? Can someone read the Tamil and tell us all?
I note that the picture used for this poster is an old one, of the young, bright-faced sage. Is this what he looks like now?
Entering Tiruvannamalai along Bangalore Road, you start to see building frames that have been erected, or poles dug into the ground and tied together with ropes.
A temporary fence has been placed here in the empty lot at the corner of Perampakkam Road. In a week these grounds will be filled with cows and bullocks that are for sale. The biggest cattle ‘fair’ of the year is held during this time. Across the street will be horses, ponies, and fancy horse carts. Groups of bullocks will also line Bangalore Road, all the way to the Girivalam Road turnoff.
This is probably going to be some kind of chai stand, or food vendor.
New police substations are being opened as well. There are several along Girivalam Road. This one is near the intersection of Bangalore and Perumpakkam Roads. They are going to have a grand opening ceremony later this morning.
Below, a giant pile of green bananas. They are building the frame of a temporary building behind the bananas.
Another temporary structure, this one with a high roof.
More construction of another temporary building. The woven palm leaves that will make the roof are piled in front.
A steam shovel clears the ground along the road. Vendors’ stalls will line the road here in another two or three days.
Heading into town, there was a terrible stretch of road between Ramanasramam and the big temple. They have been working on a sewer system in Tiruvannamalai, and most streets in town have been torn up in the last year or so. This road was so bad that I saw an article in the Chennai paper, talking about its poor condition and what it might mean for those walking around Arunachala during Deepam.
Here’s what it looked like last week.
Now dirt has been brought in and graded into a surface that is kind of flat.
And a few hundred meters down the road, it is newly paved. Maybe they will have the whole road repaved before the main part of Deepam?
Various fruit vendors have set up stands along the way. The processions of the gods go by this spot, so they should have good business each day now.
I like the pineapple sculpture this vendor has built on his cart.
Everybody is getting ready. Already there are more people walking around Arunachala. I have see several groups of Indian men, dressed in orange dhotis, led by a drummer, walking and chanting.
The big day is Sunday! Get ready!
Tags: Karthigai Deepam 2010