TIRUVANNAMALAI: With just days to go for the 10-day-long annual Karthigai Deepam festival in the temple town of Tiruvannamalai, preparations have reached a feverish peak.
The Barani Deepam will be lit inside the Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar temple early in the morning of Tuesday while the Maha Deepam will be atop the 2,671-feet high Annamalai hills the same evening.
The giant cauldron in which the Maha Deepam will burn nonstop for ten days has received a fresh coat of paint after it was cleansed with fire to remove the dross from last year. The dross is then sold to devotees as “Deepa Mai”.
The ‘Deepa Nadars’ – the special group of people tasked with carrying the cauldron to the top of the hill will make their four-hour ascent on Sunday while another set will carry to the hilltop 4.50 tonne of Aavin ghee which is the fuel. One-kilometer-long cotton ‘gadda’ cloth which is the wick for the flame will also be taken up simultaneously.
“The ‘Deepa Nadars’ will then descend with another group being tasked with bringing down the cauldron when the festivities are concluded,” a temple official added.
“One or two of them will stay on top to ensure that the cauldron is fed with the fuel at regular intervals through the use of a long-handled ladle,” he added.
“The town already sports a festive atmosphere with devotees starting to arrive to participate in the various deepam-related religious ceremonies,” an official said and added that “this time around review meetings of the preparations are being conducted once in three days to ensure that everything goes smoothly given the fact that 30 lakh devotees are expected to descend on the town as the festival is being celebrated after a two-year pandemic related hiatus.”