Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Cattle Fair
Traditionally a Cattle Fair takes place during the Arunachala Karthigai
Deepam Festival. Generally cows, horses and sheep are brought to the
Fair Grounds (located off NH 66 Chengam Road near the Arts College) a
couple of days before Mahadeepam. Because of the financial burden of the
ongoing "monetisation" programme in India, it was estimated that this
year the Cattle Fair was fifty percent down compared to previous years.
Below is a report of the Cattle Fair during the 2016 Deepam Festival which appeared in local newspapers.
"Twenty three people from Kallampuli village in Kadaiyanallur taluk of
Tirunelveli district have come to Tiruvannamalai Karthigai Deepam Cattle
Shandy to purchase a set of bullocks for their village temple.
Asked why they came all the way from Kadaiyanallur, travelling 470 km to
buy a pair of bullocks, Ramar, one of the villagers, said: "We want to
buy it from Tiruvannamalai Deepam, a sacred festival in a sacred place.
Although we purchase the cattle a day earlier, we won't untie the cattle
until we have a glimpse of the Mahadeepam."
Diraviyam, another person from the team, said: "We want to buy 'Ottan
Kalai' that is more powerful than others. This breed is not available in
our place. That is also one reason why we come this far." He was
referring to a breed called 'Merkathi' or 'Osur' in the local parlance.
The shandy used to be famous for native breeds such as this.|
Despite the sentiment and breed-specific
significance attached to this shandy, business was poor this year. "Only
about 40 to 50 per cent of heads of cattle came this year," said
Palani, a cattle trader from Arani who has been in the business for the
last 40 years.
"Traders don't have money to buy nor do our customers have money to buy
from us. I myself purchased 13 bullocks from Andhra Pradesh to sell in
this shandy. Because of the goodwill I enjoy, considering the money
crisis they sold them on credit to me. Every trader cannot get credit,"
Mr. Palani added.
"Not only the number of heads of cattle, but species-specific slump is
also palpable here. 'Osur' and 'Tiruvannamalai' breeds have arrived in
very low numbers. Because of depletion of local breeds, their prices go
up," says a writer and former agricultural journalist.
Even the low number of heads of cattle have very few takers. The sellers
are even prepared to accept old notes of Rs. 500 or Rs. 1,000 for a
portion of the price. "But still there are very few takers," said a
Apart from directly affecting the purchasing power of farmers, the
demonetisation has hit the shandy in many ways. "No rains. Even the
farmers who want to take up farming despite lack of water could not do
so because they could not buy inputs for the cultivation and pay wages
because of demonetisation. When there is no farming who will come to buy
cattle, other than a few men looking for carts," asks Murugan, a
Although there is no palpable slump in the number of horses that came
for sales, only very few are sold. Siva, a jockey from Tiruvannamalai,
said on Sunday: "As far as I know, only four horses were sold from
yesterday". Several allied trades like horse hair pruning, bull horn
sharpening, shops that sell ornaments, and accessories for cattle were
Rows of stalls selling related items
Plenty of food stalls throughout
Colourful stalls on side of girivalam roadway
Ornaments made with sea-shells
And lots of cattle bells
Two happy looking bullocks
Handsome with lots of ornaments
Compared to previous years small turnout of Bullocks
Happy to bask in sunshine after heavy rains
Enjoying the sun after several wet soggy days
Horses next to nicely painted carts
Many horses brought to Cattle Fair this year
Makes you want to adopt them all!
2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Lord Arunachaleswarar Girivalam
After completion of the 10 day Arunachala Karthigai Festival, Lord
Arunachaleswarar performs girivalam of the 14 km roadway around the
perimeter of the Hill. This girivalam of Swamy gives an opportunity to
devotees to take His darshan who are otherwise unable to view Him at
Arunachaleswarar Temple. The only other time each year Swamy performs
Arunachala girivalam is during the January Pongal Festival.
Lord performing girivalam on December 14, 2016
Stops to receive offerings and for aarti
Gives darshan on Girivalam Roadway