Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 7. All Day - Maharadham

The 7th day of the 2016 Arunachala Karthigai Deepam Festival is probably the most popular of all the ceremonial processions of the Deepam Festival. It is the day of the giant Maharadham - which is hauled by devotees around the mada veedhis of Arunachaleswarar Temple.

This day all the panchamoorthies participate in the procession, each in their own wooden chariot. The first two chariots are those of Lord Vinayaka and Lord Murugan (with both wives).

Alangaram of Lord Vinayaka

Lord Vinayaka in Wooden Chariot on circumambulation of Temple. First of the five radhams

Lord Vinayaka pulled around the whole perimeter of the Temple by devotees

Chariot on the West Side of Temple near Pey Gopuram

Lord Vinayaka on Big Street (North Side)

Second chariot is Lord Murugan (with two wives). Alangaram of Lord Murugan.

Lord Murugan in Chariot on circumambulation.
Being pulled by devotees. Gents on right. Ladies on left

2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 7. All Day - Maharadham Procession

The most popular day for performing the "sugarcane cradle" vrata (vow) is on Maharadham. From early morning parents and family members purchase sugarcane from vendors throughout Car Street. Then go on their Temple rounding.

Parents with their sugarcanes near Radhams on Car Street

Endless supply of sugarcane for sale throughout Car Street

Parents with child in sugarcane cradle on circumambulation

The Ter (Chariot)

"Ter-pulling Festivals are to be understood as a royal progress. In Tamil Hindu Temple rites, the "ter" is at once a war-chariot, a mobile palace and a representation of the God's Temple. During these Festivals the God (or Goddess) is enthroned on his "ter" and vested with royal trappings; the great car is then drawn in triumph along its designated procession route.

This route is the Deity's symbolic kingdom. As He proceeds among His worshippers, He (or the priest-attendants who act on His behalf) receives the offerings which are presented by His subject-devotees; the God returns these presentations in the form of prasad. These ceremonial exchanges affirm the God's sovereign status, and they also express the bonds of social rank and primacy which are continually being built up and recorded among his devotees."

[Saints, Goddesses and Kings by Susan Bailey]

Structure next to Maharadham for devotees to cross over into chariot

Maharadham on its procession route Car Street

Maharadham on Thiruvoodal Street

2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 7. All Day - Maharadham Procession: Amman and Chandikeswarar
With the arrival of the Amman and Chandikeswarar Radhams, all the panchamoorthies have completed their procession of the mada veedhis and have returned to their permanent spots on the sides of Car Street (east side of Temple).

Amman Radham returns to Car Street

Last Radham to complete circumambulation is Chandikeswarar

2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 8. Early Morning - Cauldron Puja. Cauldron Taken To Top Of Arunachala

Early on Saturday, December 10, 2016, Puja was performed on the Deepam Cauldron in the 4th Prakaram of Arunachaleswarar Temple. Rukku was in attendance. After the Cauldron was blessed, it was lashed up to poles and then carried out of the Temple by (as tradition dictates), men of the fishing caste.

Rukku in attendance at early morning puja

2016 Arunachala Deepam Cauldron

Cauldron lashed to poles and carried by fishermen

Cauldron leaves Arunachaleswarar Temple

Crossing Pey Gopuram Street to Arunachala summit pathway

2016 Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Cauldron and Wicks To Arunachala Summit

After puja was performed on the Arunachala Mahadeepam Cauldron, men from the fishing caste left the Temple by Amman Ammani Gopuram with the Cauldron and made their way to the entry point of the track on the east side leading up to Arunachala summit.

Men from the fishing caste carry Cauldron

Back-breaking work but no shortage of fishermen volunteers

In Big Temple, cloth (to be used as Cauldron wicks) awaits to be carried to Arunachala summit

Devotees make donations towards Deepam Cauldron ghee

Ghee being weighed