Walking around Arunachaleswarar Temple and
Tiruvannamalai its easy to see Tiruvannamalai is in Festival Mode.
Groups of Brahmin Priests chant the Vedas in the Temple compound,
Community Sangams recite Sundarar's Thevaram outside the Kalyana
Mandapam, collections of lamps and lights lay in large mounds at the
back of the Third Prakaram, newly crafted wooden chocks are stacked
against the walls awaiting pick up for use by processional Chariots.
Rukku the Arunachaleswarar elephant evident in processions around the
Mada Veedhis . . . and everywhere, musicians playing both Indian
traditional and Western musical instruments.
Brahmin priests chanting
Community Sangam group reciting Sundarar's Thevaram
Wooden chocks stacked by wall ready for use by processional chariots
Night procession lamps
So many lamps
Rukku on festival detail
2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 1. Evening - Adhikara Nandi Vahana
Yesterday evening the Lord's vehicle was the Adhikara Nandi. There are
two types of Nandi statues at Siva Temples, the more common is that of
the recumbent bull (Vrsabha) and the other is that of Adhikara Nandi. In
the case of Arunachaleswarar Temple, the Adhikara Nandi of last night's
function is in the form of a bull-headed human standing on two legs.
Adhikara Nandi's two back hands hold a parasu (battle axe) and mrga
(antelope) and the two front hands are folded on the chest in a pose of
obeisance. Since he is the chief of the ganas of Siva, exercising his
authority (adhikara) over them, he is christened as 'Adhikara Nandi.'
The white bull - Nandi - is the divine vehicle of Lord Shiva, the Destroyer.
He is the chief of the ganas, Shiva's attendants. Nandi means 'happy'.
Nandikesvara, Lord of happiness, one of Shiva's ganas was fond of dance
and music. He was born of the Divine progenitor Kashyapa and the Divine
cow Surabhi. He married Suyasha, the daughter of the Maruts. As his life
was coming to an end, he prayed to Shiva to lengthen his life. Shiva
granted him immortality and leadership over His ganas. He was given the
title "Adhikara Nandi" (or "authoritative Nandi'), for it is only with
Nandi's grace and permission that one can enter the temple of Shiva.
Adhikara Nandi took on a human form as a bull-headed human standing on
two legs (or in some instances a bull standing erect on his rear legs).
Nandi is more than Shiva's vahana or vehicle. As the chief of Shiva's
attendants, he is also the guardian of all four-legged animals. Nandi is
essential to every Shiva Temple - the sanctum sanctorum of each Temple,
where the deity may be in a human or linga form, has an image of Nandi
facing the shrine.
There is a story that Vrishabha Deva or Nandi was very proud of his role
as the vehicle of the Supreme Lord Shiva himself. To teach him a
lesson, Shiva placed a lock of his hair on the bull, who was unable to
bear the weight. Realising that he had been arrogant, Nandi begged
Shiva's pardon. Shiva forgave him and initiated him into divine
Nandi completes the image of the happy family. In days gone by, people
depended on the bull for transportation. The bull was thus the vehicle
both for Shiva and man. He is also a symbol of how a powerful animal,
imbued with Divine authority, is also a gentle and humble worker and
helper to both the Gods and man.
Adhikara Nandi Vahana
Panchamoorthies darshan Alankaram Mandapam
Adhikara Nandi Vahana procession Mada Veddhis
2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 1. Evening - Adhikara Nandi Vahana Preparations
Between the Gods in the Temple and their triumphant procession on the
Mada Veedhis of Arunachaleswarar Temple, there are steps and
preparations. Some of which are shown below.
Panchamoorties aarti in front of Siva Shrine
Traditional Temple music during ceremonies
Unadorned Adhikara Nandi Vahana inside Alankaram Mandapam, near Raja Gopuram gate
Sequence here is repeated throughout the Festival. The Lord at right of
photographs being transferred from palanquin to His Vahana
Heavy exertion by devotees required to transfer the Lord on palanquin to Vahana
Inch by inch the Lord is brought to his Vahana
The God is in position on his Vahana, and the carriers disengage the palanquin poles
Ornaments, accoutrements and lights are added to Vahana
Whole process takes place inside Alankaram Mandapam and only when
preparations are complete, is the God brought to front of Mandapam
Unadorned Annapakshi (mythological bird) later be adorned as Vahana for the Shakti Goddess
Goddess on decorated Vahana ready to accompany the Lord on His Adhikara Nandi Vahana
Lord on Adhikara Nandi Vahana now to be moved to front of Alankaram to give darshan
Panchamoorthies accompanied by musicians start circumambulation of mada veedhis
Devotees watch the start of the procession