Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 3. Morning - Bootha Vahana
On the morning of Day 3 of the 2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival, Lord Chandrasekhara on the Bootha Vahana.
Vinayaka leading procession through 5th Prakara
Lord Chandrasekhara being carried towards Thitti Vassal
Lord leaving Temple via Thitti Vassal
Brahmin priests adorning the Lord
Bhoota Vahana before recent make-over
Bhootha Vahana with panchalogam covering
Darshan outside Alankaram Mandapam
Starting procession of mada veedhis
Lord Chandrasekhara on Bhootha Vahana
Lord Chandrasekhara preceded by Vinayaka on Rat Vahana
Lord Vinayaka with Rukku in background
2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 3. Night - Shima Vahana
During this 10-day Arunachala Karthigai Festival, the panchamoorthies
are daily taken out in procession and circumambulation of the mada
veedhis around Arunachaleswarar Temple. Sometimes, the Deity is shown
mounted on or riding the vahana, while at other times, the vahana is
shown by the Deity's side. Many times, this vahana (vehicle) represents
and symbolises a Divine attribute and even though the vahana appears to
be independent, it is actually part and parcel of the Deity's presence
and has an meaning to it.
In the case of the Lord on the Simha (lion) vehicle; the creature
represents lordly power in general and lordly power of wild beasts in
particular. The lion is regarded as a Royal beast and thus represents
the best in animal creation. However it may also represent greed for
food and hence greed for other objects of enjoyment, which invariably
leads to lust. The Lord mounted on this Simha vahana represents His
ascendancy and control of animal instincts manifested in the human
The lion is an archetypal symbol for the golden-rayed sun, the lord of
the day, whose appearance kills the demonic forces of the night. The
lion has always been important in Indian mythology as it symbolises the
solar and luminous principle of life and knowledge.
The lion also expresses the heroism and prowess necessary to defeat
asuric forces and represents the heroism and strength required to enter
the spiritual path.
Panchamoorthies darshan Alankaram Mandapam
Lord mounted on Lion Vahana on Temple perimeter streets
Lord mounted on Shima Vahana on Thiruvoodal Street
2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 4. Day - Naga Vahana
On morning of Day 4 of the 2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival, the vahana for Lord Chandrasekhara is the naga.
The use of the word naga usually refers only to mythological serpents
while snakes living in nature are called sarpas. However the word naga
is also used to represent the cobra.
The cobra which is seen coiled around the neck of Lord Shiva, represents
power over destruction and creation. It primarily represents rebirth,
death and mortality - due to the casting of its skin thus being
symbolically "reborn". The snake also represents Kundalini Shakti and as
a vahana of Lord Shiva depicts desires kept under control of the
Alangarams of Lord and Vinayaka
Brahmin Priest applies pottu to Lord at Yagasala Shrine, 3rd Prakaram, Big Temple
Carrying the Lord on palanquin through Temple
Lord on palanquin 1000 Pillar Hall, 5th Prakaram
Lord on Naga Vahana receiving aarti at Alankaram Mandapam
Lord on Naga Vahana beginning procession of mada veedhis
Procession on Car Street, Tiruvannamalai
Lord Vinayaka on Rat Vahana, followed by the Lord on Naga Vahana
2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 4. Night - Kalpavriksha and
Kamadhenu Vahanas: Wish-Fulfilling Tree and Wish-Fulfilling Cow
One of the most popular processions during the Arunachala Deepam
Festival, is that of Kalpavriksha (also known as Karpavirutcham), the
wish-fulfilling tree and Kamadhenu, the wish-fulfilling cow. Both of
which emphasis the wish-fulfilling aspect of Arunachala.
The Kalpavriksha is a mythological Divine tree said to fulfill all
desires. Its mythology narrates that the wish-fulfilling tree originates
from the churning of the ocean of milk after which the god Indra,
returned with the tree to his paradise. During the Deepam Festival on
the Fourth Night Lord Arunachaleswarar is seated under the Kalpavriksha
The second major Radham appearing on that night is that of Kamadhenu
(literally meaning; the cow; "from whom all that is desired is drawn",
or "the divine cow providing for all needs"). The Kamadhenu is a divine
cow-goddess described in mythology as the mother of all cows who
provides the owner with whatever is desired.
Theories as to the origin of the Kamadhenu are two-fold. One scripture
describes her as the daughter of the creator god Daksha, and another
narrates that Kamadhenu also emerged from the churning of the cosmic
ocean. Upon the divine cow during the Deepam night procession is seated
the Goddess Saraswati.
It is often the wish fulfilling aspect of Girivalam that brings many
pilgrims each Poornima (Full Moon) to the Hill, whatever the difficulty
or weather, to perform girivalam. In fact many pilgrims prefer it when
the conditions are extreme (cold, heavy sheeting rain, previous tapas
such as fasting and mortification etc) as they believe that the greater
the difficulties they overcome in performing girivalam, the greater will
be the focus of their sankalpa (intention) and success of their wish.
The now deceased Annamalai Swami explains the power of the Hill as thus:-
". . . It is not an ordinary hill. It is spirituality Itself. It has a
powerful, magnetic pull to the Self. Seekers who come to this place with
the intention of realizing the Self will have untold benefits to do
pradakshina on a full moon.
In the proximity of this holy hill the presence of the Self is more
powerful and more self-evident than anywhere else. Indian mythology
speaks of a wish-fulfilling tree. If you find this tree and tell it what
you want, your wish will be granted.
Arunachala also has this reputation. This is why so many people come
here on a full moon night and walk around it. But very few people come
here and ask for their complete freedom, for undisturbed peace.
Arunachala is a light. It shines. It is the light of the Self, and the
light of the Self will continue to shine on you whether you believe it
or not. Arunachala is greater than all other religious places. There are
other holy, powerful places in the world, but none have the power of
Arunachala . . . There is a huge amount of shakti, or spiritual energy,
Aarti to alangarams Kalyana Mandapam, 3rd Prakaram
Aarti to Lord Arunachaleswarar and Goddess Saraswati
Panchamoorthies darshan Alankaram Mandapam
Lord Arunachaleswarar Kalpavriksha Tree
Goddess Saraswati on Kamadhenu
Lord Arunachaleswarar on Kalpavriksha Vahana circumambulation of Temple