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Tiruvannamalai: In a low key affair in view of the Covid pandemic, the ‘Karthigai Maha Deepam’ was lit atop the 2,668-foot Annamalai Hills in this temple town, this evening.

At the stroke of  6 pm, soon after the Ardhanareeswarar deity was taken round the `Dwajasthambam’ of the famous Lord Arunachaleswarar
temple, the Maha Deepam was lit atop the Hills,  amidst chanting of ‘Annamalayarukku Arohara’ by the devotees.

On the hill top, the Maha Deepam was lit in a giant ‘copra’ (copper utensil), filled with more than 3,000 kg of ghee and two kg of camphor.

A wick measuring more than 1000 m was made using special cloth and inserted in the cauldron to lit the Deepam, which could be seen from miles around for nearly ten days.

Early in the day, after the temple was opened at 2 am, the Bharani Deepam was lit at 4 am. Normally more than 15 lakh people would throng this temple down on the occasion of Maha deepam, however, due to Covid pandemic, only 20,000 devotees (5,000 from Tiruvannamalai district and 15,000
from other districts and States) were allowed entry to the town for performing circumambulation of the holy hills.

Last year too it was a low key affair as the Covid pandemic was at its peak.

The lighting of the Deepam, which could be seen from a distance of about 25 kms, was preceded by a procession of ‘Utsava’ deities of Lord Vinayaka, Lord Muruga along with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, temple’s presiding deities Lord Annamalaiar and his consort Goddess Unnamalaiamman, Parasakthi and Chandikeswarar in the temple premises.

After the lighting of the Maha Deepam, 20,000 devotees, who were issued special tokens after registring online as per the orders of the Madras High Court, performed ‘Girivalam’ (circumambulation) of the hills.

The tastefully-illuminated eleven-storeyed Gopuram (Temple tower) was also lit with ‘Ahals’ (earthern oil lamps) set in rows in all the floors.

The nine-day Deepam festival, being celebrated in the Tamil month of Karthigai (November-December), began on ‘Uttradam’ day with flag hoisting and it culminated with the lighting of Maha Deepam atop the Hills.

The Maha Deepam represents Lord Shiva, who appeared in the form of a pillar of fire with no end and beginning (Jyotirlinga) before Brahma and Vishnu.
Karthigai Deepam festival, observed in traditional Tamil month Karthigai, was more than 3000 years old and found mention in early Tamil scriptures.

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