Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 6. Day - Chandrasekhara on Silver Elephant: 63 Nayanars
In the festivities of the morning of the sixth day, a glorious Silver Elephant, leads a procession of the great Shiva devotees, the 63 Nayanars.

The Nayanars are remembered as a group of 63 saints (poets) of the 6th to 8th century who were devoted to Lord Shiva. It was they who influenced the Bhakti movement in Tamil Nadu. The names of the 63 saints were first compiled by Sundarar and the list was expanded by Nambiyandar Nambi during his compilation of material for the famed Tirumurai.

Message of the Nayanars
"There have been many 'intellectuals' even in India who have looked down upon the path of Bhakti (devotion) as something inferior to Jnana (wisdom). Their short-sightedness becomes at once apparent when we study the lives of the great Four Teachers (Appar, Sundarar, Manickavachagar and Sambandar) and realise that these great Jnanis, too, were great Bhaktas who loved to visit Temples and sing the glories of the Lord.

Love of the Lord cuts at the very root of our attachment to this world, and snaps all worldly ties, to father, mother, son, wife or relatives. As the stories of the Nayanars illustrate, the devotee is ever ready to renounce all, in favour of devotion to Lord Siva.

Let us also never forget that in the case of all the Nayanars devotion invariably meant expansion of the heart, and, therefore, service and charity. We have to take the individual tales of the Nayanars as allegories exhorting us to rout out the inner obstacles to our Sadhana.

If we approach these saints with faith and devotion in our hearts, we shall grasp the message they have for us. We shall also understand why they gave such a great place to externals like the sacred ash, Rudraksha, etc. These symbols remind one constantly of God: and, when they are said to remove our sins, they remove our sinful tendencies, too, by constantly reminding us of God, and keeping evil out of our mind."
[By: Venkatesananda]

Out of the 63 Nayanars, the four Saiva Samaya Acharyas; (left to right) Tirugnasambandar, Tirunanvukkarasar (Appar), Sundarar and Manikkavasagar are remembered best of all.

The principal teachings of the four Saiva Samaya Acharyas is of love and surrender to God; and of service to God and godly men. That love, devotion, and service to God is the only way one can obtain His Grace. God is One and He is Shiva. That man must get over his bonds which keep him in ignorance and obtain inseparable union with Shiva through the Lord's Grace.

The Lord on silver Elephant

Proceeding on mada veedhis of Big Temple

Palanquins carrying individual Nayanars

The Saiva Samaya Acharyas

Procession of Rukku with Silver Elephant

Below photographs shows the sequence of Lord Chandrasekhara being mounted on his Silver Elephant vahana

Lord carried on palanquin from temple to Alankaram Mandapam

Lord moving towards platform with Silver Elephant

Silver Elephant on Platform

Lord on palanquin being moved towards vahana

Lifted up to back of Vahana

Once Lord positioned back of Elephant - palanquin poles removed

Decorating the Lord on palanquin

Sugarcane and flowers on Elephant trunk

Elephant Vahana ready to move out of Mandapam

Darshan in front of Mandapam before procession

2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 6. Night - Silver Chariot

The below photographs are of the night procession of the sixth day of the 2016 Arunachala Karthigai Deepam Festival with the Lord in his processional Silver Chariot.

In the first photograph Lord Arunachaleswarar is carried from the front of the Alankaram Mandapam across Car Street to the Teertham at corner of Sannidhi Street, where His Silver Chariot awaits.

Lord carried from Alankaram Mandapam to His chariot

Lord in Silver Chariot ready to start procession

Procession around mada veedhis

Arunachala Karthigai Festival - Silver Chariot

The Silver Chariot