Presentation of Flag and Umbrellas
Each year the Devanga Kula Community of Tiruvannamalai presents a Deepam Flag to Arunachaleswarar Temple which is thereafter used throughout the Festival.

At their Temple, the "Sri Ramalingaswara Sowdeswari Ambal Temple" on Raja Rajan Street (near Thiruvoodal Street), puja was performed to consecrate the 2016 Deepam Flag. After which Rukku, our Arunachaleswarar elephant came in state accompanied by a representative from the Big Temple to receive the Flag from the Devanga Kula community.

Rukku at community Temple

Puja performed at Temple to consecrate Flag

Representatives from Arunachaleswarar Temple receive Flag and
thereafter carry it in procession on Mada Veedhis

Presentation of Ceremonial Umbrellas for the Gods
For the last 12 years, the Arunachala Seva Sangam of Chennai has donated God Umbrellas to be used during Arunachala Karthigai Deepam Festival processions.

In 2016 the Seva Sangam travelled from Srinivasa Temple, Kanchipuram to Tiruvannamalai. On arrival on Friday (December 2, 2016) the group performed circumambulation of Arunachaleswarar Kovil and then donated the umbrellas to Temple authorities.

Backdrop of new umbrellas donated by Arunachala Seva Sangam, Chennai for 2016 Karthigai Deepam Festival

Bringing umbrellas to Temple for official presentation

Vinayaka and Chandikeswarar Utsavam: Pre-2016 Karthigai Deepam Festival
There are three days previous to the beginning of the 10 day Karthigai Deepam Festival. The first pre-day celebrates Durgai Utsavam, the second day Pidari Utsavam and the third day observes Vinayaka and Chandikeswarar Utsavam.

The panchamoorthies taken in procession throughout the celebratory Karthigai Deepam Festival are: Vinayaka, Arunachaleswarar-Unnamulai, Amman, Kartikeya and Chandikeswarar. Below is information about Chandikeswarar (who represents all devotees) and explanation why he follows the other murtis (idols) as their steward.

"Chandikeswarar, a devotee of Lord Shiva was born in the village of Seynalur on the banks of the river Manni in the Chola country, as a young lad named Vicharasarman.

He was the son of a pious and learned Brahmin named Yajnadatta. Vicharasarman was of great intelligence. One day when the lad was going to school, he saw a cowherd brutally assaulting a cow. Angry at the behaviour of the cowherd, young Vicharasarman took upon himself the duty of tending the cows of the village, to which the villagers acceded. From that day the cows looked happier and yielded more milk. More than the cow's udders could hold. Vicharasarman, seeing that the milk was being wasted, collected it in vessels, set up lingams made of sand and poured this excess milk to bathe the lingams with intense piety for Shiva. The cowherd who had lost position on account of this Brahmin boy, saw him in this act and found this a good cause for denouncing him. He immediately brought it to the notice of the village elders as well as Yajnadatta, Vicharsarman's father. The father saw his son pouring milk on small sand mounds and without investigating, kicked one of the lingams in anger. Young Vicharasarman came out of his reverie and cut off the leg of his father with an axe with which he had kicked a linga.

Shiva was pleased with the devotion of this boy and he appeared in person along with Parvati his consort, before the boy. Shiva embraced him and made him in charge of his ganas (devotees or followers). He was also made the steward of his household, naming him Chandikeswarar."

Chandesa is the embodiment of devotion and piety and the place he attained is considered the highest a devotee of Siva is privileged with.

Lord Vinayaka

Lord Vinayaka rat vahana, Chandikeswarar cow vahana

Alankaram Mandapam darshan

Starting on procession

Circumambulation of Mada Veedhis

2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 1 - Flag Hoisting
The Flag Hoisting ceremony which took place at Arunachaleswarar Temple early morning on Saturday, December 3rd, 2014 marked the first day of the 2016 Karthigai Deepam Festival at Arunachala.

Symbolically, hoisting the flag suggests setting out to conquer - and a devotee comes to the Temple to conquer his ego and gain control over his baser nature with the help of the Supreme Being. The Sanskrit word for the flag is 'Dhvaja' and it means whatever is raised. In the religious sense, whatever raises man to a higher level of understanding and activity is a 'Dhvaja.' The flag also suggests hope and desire to overcome ignorance. A Temple visit invigorates the devotee, recharging him with strength and bravery to face hardships knowing that ultimately those who have surrendered to the will of God find victory.

Kings of old in order to exhibit their Lordship over their kingdom and proclaim their continuing rulership would hoist a flag above their battlements or palace. The Dhvaja which suggests the victory of good over evil is a symbol of victory and superior wealth. It signifies commanding respect, patriotism and kingship. The flag nowadays is raised to honour God who is seen as the King of Kings - the Supreme Power.

The history of a Temple flag on the Dwajasthambam (Dwajasthambam - Flag Pole) is that it marks an inauguration of a major Utsava at the Temple. The flag also serves as a signal to indicate to the people and visitors of the town that an Utsava is underway. Dhwajarohanam is a public act of sankalpa (an action made to impress an idea on the mind) which indicates a vow undertaken (in this case) by the people of the town to celebrate Brahmostavam.

Old customs dedicated that no-one present within the town limits on the occasion of the Dhwajarohanam was expected to leave the town or do any other thing such as marriage etc., until after the end of the Festival. The close of the Festival is marked by the Dhwajavarohanam or the lowering of the flag.

Inside Temple looking out at Flagpole

To right Gods under Pandal watching ceremony

Raising of Flag, 2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival

Gods under Pandal near flag post

Large crowd attended flag hoisting ceremony

Crowd watching ceremony in 3rd Prakaram

2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 1 Morning - Panchamoorthies Utsavam
After the Flag Hoisting ceremony, the Panchamoorthies each on their own palanquin are carried around the Flagpost five times in the order: Vinayaka, Murugan, Arunachaleswarar, Shakti and Chandikeswara. After their circumambulation, each of the Gods are carried through the Temple which they then leave through the Thitti Vassal Gate, adjacent to the Raja Gopuram on the east side of the Temple.

Lord Chandrasekhara

Arunachaleswarar carried around Flagpost five times

Arunachaleswarar carried on Palanquin, Shakti Goddess left back of photograph

As God is carried around Flagpost, they are rocked by bearers

Front of Shrine beautifully decorated for the function

Arunachala background of colourful scene

Lord Arunachaleswarar in front of 1000 Pillar Hall

Left Lord Arunachaleswarar and right Shakti Goddess

Panchamoorthies darshan Alankaram Mandapam

After having circumambulated the Temple on the Mada Veedhis Gods return to Car Street on way to Temple

Nearing Arunachaleswarar Temple