Offer Your Diligent Prayers In The Arunachaleshwar Temple
Situated at the extreme base of the Annamalai hills, this temple is one of the greatest religious destinations of Thiruvannamalai, in the state of Tamil Nadu. Associated with the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, the temple is the bearer of the fire or Agni form of Lord Shiva. According to the historical artifacts of the temple, the constructional era dates back to the 9th century, during the reign of the Chola dynasty. However, later expansions of the temple trace back to the time of Sangama dynasty of the Vijaynagar rulers. Approximately between 1336 to 1485 C.E, the vijaynagar rulers undertook further expansions of the temple. Proceeding with this legacy further were the Tulava and Saluva dynasty.
Religious and cultural significance
The annamalaiyar temple is the divine manifestation of the five essential elements of nature. Referred to as Agni Lingam, it portrays the inherent essence of aesthetic life through the perfect execution of worldly duties. Moreover, it also represents the complete cycle of Agni Kalpa through virtue and self-sacrifice. Personifying the tantric cycles of human anatomy, are the Aathara Stalas. Also popular as the Manipooraga stalam, it represents the major virtues of the Manipooraga chakra. The entities of one’s spiritual ignorance, jealousy, treachery, disgust, shame, fear and delusion are associated with this chakra. Moreover, the incorporation of nagaswaram and Tavil, the pipe and percussion instruments, in the worship procedure of the temple, essay the rich cultural heritage of the temple.
Presiding deity of the temple
Pilgrims and devotees across the world, offer prayers to the principal deity of the temple, Lord Shiva. However, the divine manifestation of the Lord, in this temple is popular as Arunachaleswarar or Annamalaiyar. He is the fire manifestation of Pancha Bhoota Stalas representing virtue, self sacrifice and duty. Additionally, the presence of Lord Shiva’s consort Parvati, as the Unnamulai Amman is of great reverence. The Lord possesses various other names of reverence, such as Arunagiriswarar, Sonachaleswarar, Bhaktapasavimochakar, Sounadriswarar and Vedamurthi.
Detailed description of Idol
Worshipped as the divine fire incarnation, the resident idol of the temple is a Shiva lingam. It is also popular as the Agni Lingam of Lord Shiva. After circling around the other three prakarams, dedicated followers can enter into the first prakaram, containing the Garbagraha of the main deity. Carved out of black stone, the idol is in the legendary form of lingam; iconic representation of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, the controller of all the worldly cycles of the universe, showers blessings on his followers and guides them to the path of self-emancipation.
Presence of other shrines
On the posterior side of the main Shrine, stands the Venugopalaswamy image, known to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Apart from that, there are other images of Somaskandar, Chandekeswarar, Arumugaswami, Swarnabairavar and Lingodbhavar, the last one being the image of Lord Shiva emerging from the Lingam. Going around the sanctum, pilgrims can offer prayers to the Palliyarai; divine room of repose of deities situated in the first precinct. Apart from that, the second precinct houses the Unnamulai Amman, the divine incarnation of Goddess Parvati and Sambantha Vinayagar, the elephant deity.
Diligent performance of rituals
The performance of rituals at the temple is done by the Shaivaite priests, belonging to the sub-caste of Brahmins. The rituals begin as early as 5:30 a.m. with Ushathkalam, followed by Kalasanthi and Uchikalam, at 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. respectively. After the completion of these rituals, there is Sayarakshai, Irandamkalam and Ardha Jamam at six p.m., eight p.m. and 10:00 p.m respectively. Each of these worship procedures involves the diligent performance of four steps. The steps are Abhisheka the holy bath, alangaram or adorning the deity, neivethanam or offering of prasadam, and finally deepa aradanai, or performance of arti with lamps. Along with these procedures, religious readings from the Vedas are also present.
Festivities at the temple
An annamalaiyar photos download will divulge the range of festivities celebrated at the temple. Throughout the year, the temple hosts almost a dozen festivals. Amongst the major celebrations at the temple, the Brahmotsavam is celebrated annually. Ranging from November to December, during the Kartikai month of Tamil calendar, the celebration of Brahmotsavam attracts flocks of pilgrims and devotees from every corner of the country. Moreover, the entire celebration concludes with Karthikai Deepam. During this festivity, a large cauldron with three tons of ghee is lit in the form of a lamp. The entire celebration occurs atop the Annamalai Hills.
Apart from that, the first week of Thai, according to the Tamil calendar, host Tiruvoodal. During this festivity, both the idols of Lord Shiva and his consort are taken to the streets of Tiruoodal. Enactment of the romance between Unnamamulai Amman and Annamalaiyar occurs, on the Maatu Pongal morning. Moreover, fruit garlands are used to decorate Nandi.
A famous pilgrimage destination
The entire Thiruvannamalai region witnesses the gatherings of pilgrims and devotees from all parts of the world, paying respects at the Lord Shiva temple. Dedicated worshippers of Lord Shiva, gather in the temple premises, in huge numbers, during Chitra Pournami. On this full moon day, five ther, or temple cars set in a grand procession.