Preparations for 2016 Arunachala Karthigai Deepam Festival
The below photographs show how busy the Temple and Tiruvannamalai were
in preparations for the 2016 Arunachala Karthigai Deepam Festival.
Roadworks were quickly completed in time for the anticipated crowds during the Festival.
Chains for vahanas
Temple workers busy with cleaning
Cleaning for upcoming aartis
Checking lights for electrification
Kili Gopuram between 4th and 3rd prakarams
Durgai Ursavam Pre-2016 Karthigai Deepam Festival
This year the first three days of the 17 day Deepam Festival started on
November 30, 2016 at the Durga Amman Temple, Tiruvannamalai. The
reason for the unique connection with the Goddess at Durga Amman Temple
with the Karthigai Festival is believed to be because of the Goddess and
her fight with the demon Mahisha.
In the Mahishasura legend, before fighting with the demon, the Goddess
appointed four noble Bhairavis (celestial damsels) to keep watch on all
four sides of Arunagiri.
"Admit only those who have come to worship
Arunachala and are tired, hungry and thirsty. Others should not enter.
She then appointed strong men to guard the boundaries of Arunachala and
continued Her penance at Her ashram."
[The Glory of Arunachala]
In accordance with the mythology of Arunachala, Durga is recognised as
Guardian of Arunachala and thus a precursor of the Deepam Festival is
always a celebration of this aspect of the Goddess.
Durgai Amman Temple, Tiruvannamalai
Aarti of the goddess
Leaving the shrine
Goddess ready to leave Temple compound
Carried from Temple to Goddess' vahana
Goddess on Kamadhenu Vahana
Pidari Utsavam, Pre-2016 Karthigai Deepam Festival
The Pidari Amman Shrine is located at the Third Prakaram of
Arunachaleswarar Temple. In front of the Shrine stands a huge stone
trishul (Trident). On Thursday 1st December, 2016, Pidari Utsavam was
observed at the Shrine.
Goddess Pidari is an aspect of Kali in a rural setting and regarded as a
consort of Siva. Pidari is the ferocious aspect of Amman. The Mother
Goddess gives life but Kali takes life. Goddess Pidari is the feminine
form of Kala—time. Kali is the energy or the power of time. Her
blackness swallows all that exists and the emptiness of space is her
clothing, for when the Universe is dissolved, the power of time remains
without maya (veil).
Kali's extension, Pidari and her worship; evolved as a fighter and
warrior and gained importance with the influence of Tantrism where she
is known as Kala Pidari. The Pidari Goddess, in line with Shakti
manifestations, emphasises fierce symbolism. At times Pidari is the sole
resident deity in a village. As devata, She is the all-in-all for the
village from simple prayers to divine blessings. Otherwise she watches
over the main deity of a temple in her role as 'kaval deivam' while
taking her seat in a structure on the right hand side of a temple
entrance. She joins the 'kavaldeivam' or Protection Gods' similar to
that of Ayyanar, Muniandy, Karuppana Swamy or Veerabhadra, all of whom
are warrior-protection village gods.
Pidari shares Kali's attributes and is depicted holding a noose,
trident, skull cup and a pointed knife. The noose is sometimes replaced
by ankusha—the elephant goad. The damaru that she holds is entwined by a
snake, thus sharing Siva's characteristics. She has flaming hair and
three eyes. Sometimes her breasts are decorated with snakes. She has a
terrifying appearance with long incisor teeth to frighten off evil
spirits. Her sculptures are sometimes synonymous with Goddess Mariamman
and lime strung as a garland—'elumichai malai' is her favourite.
Goddess on lion vahana
Goddess arriving Pidari Shrine
Receiving aarti outside Pidari Shrine