3,500 litres of ghee and thread made of 1000 m of cloth used Lakhs of devotees thronged Tiruvannamalai to witness the lighting of the Karthigai Deepam on Tuesday.
As the clocked struck 6 p.m., the fire was lit by devotees in the more than five-foot-tall ‘Kopparai’ (cauldron or vessel used for lighting) filled with ghee and camphor, atop the 2,668-foot-high hill.
The District Administration has restricted the passes to climb the Annamalai hill to 2,500 persons as per a court order issued a few years ago. The dark side of the Annamalai glowed like a ball of fire as thousands of devotees cheered in absolute devotion, ‘Annaimalaiyanukku Harohara’.
The entire town was flooded with devotees, who filled almost every inch of space inside and outside the temple premises from morning.
The district administration distributed seed balls to devotees who climbed atop the Annamalai for a glimpse of Maha Deepam. The 10-day Brahmotsavam of Sri Arunchaleswarar Temple began on December 1 with the hoisting of the flag. On Tuesday, the day began with a puja followed by lighting of Bharani Deepam at the temple at 4 a.m. According to official estimates, 4,000 to 5,000 people were allowed inside the temple for Bharani Deepam.
Despite the cloudy conditions and smog, lakhs of devotees thronged the temple town.
Prior to the lighting of the Maha Deepam, an idol of Vinayakar was taken out in a procession followed by those of Murugar, Arunachaleswarar, Unnamulaiamman, Chandikeswarar and Ardhanareeswarar. The Maha Deepam was lit at 6 p.m. It will be kept alive for 11 days, with the help of 3,500 litres of ghee and a thread made of a 1000-metre cloth.
Officials said close to 10,000 police personnel were deployed for crowd management.
Annadhanam was arranged at many places for the purpose of feeding devotees from far and near. Those who offer ‘Annadhanam’ were asked to register with temple administration and they have been allowed at select places on Girivalam path and other places in the town.