Friday, February 19, 2016

Annamalaiyar Temple – Worship & Festivals

Annamalaiyar Temple – Worship & Festivals
The temple priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Shaivaite community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day; Ushathkalam at 5:30 a.m., Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 10:00 a.m., Sayarakshai at 6:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 8:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 10:00 p.m. Each ritual comprises four steps: Abhisheka (sacred bath), Alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Annamalaiyar and Unnamulai Amman.
The worship is held amidst music with nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas read by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast. There are weekly rituals like Somavaram and sukravaram, fortnightly rituals like Pradosham and monthly festivals like Amavasai (new moon day), Kiruthigai, Pournami (full moon day) and sathurthi.
The temple celebrates dozens of festivals throughout the year. Four prime festivals, the Brahmotsavam, are celebrated yearly. The most important of these lasts ten days during the Tamil month of Karthikai, between November and December, concluding with the celebration of Karthikai Deepam. A huge lamp is lit in a cauldron, containing three tons of ghee, at the top of the Annamalai hills during the Deepam. To mark the occasion, the festival deity of Annamalaiyar circumambulates the mountain. Inscriptions indicate that the festival was celebrated as early as the Chola period (from 850 CE to 1280 CE) and was expanded to ten days in the twentieth century.
Every full moon, tens of thousands of pilgrims worship Annamalaiyar by circumambulating the Arunachala hill barefoot. The circumambulation covers a distance of 14 kilometres (8.7 mi), and is referred as Girivalam. According to Hindu legend, the walk removes sins, fulfils desires and helps achieve freedom from the cycle of birth and rebirth. Offerings are made in a string of tanks, shrines, pillared meditation halls, springs and caves around the hill. The circumambulation continues during the rest of the month. On the day of yearly Chitra Pournami, the full moon of the Tamil calendar, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims come from across the world to worship Annamalaiyar. Five temple cars, called ther, with wooden carvings, are used for the procession.
Thiruvoodal is another festival celebrated during the first week of the Tamil month Thai at mid-January of every year. On the morning of Maattu Pongal, between January 15 and 16, Nandi is decorated with garlands made of fruits, vegetables and sweets. The festival deities of Annamalaiyar and Unnamamulai Amman are taken out of the temple to Thiruvoodal street to enact the oodal (or love tiff) between the two in the evening.
10 day Karthikai Brahmotsavam and Karthikai Deepam in November-December, Masi Maha Shivarathri in February-March, Thai Maattu Pongal, Thiruvoodal and Oonjal utsavam falling almost on January 15 and monthly Brahmotsavam are devotionally celebrated in the temple.
Fire walking is observed on Aadi Pooram day in July-August a ceremony not followed in any Shiva temple. Six time Puja (Aaru Kala Puja) is strictly followed in this temple as per Agama rules. On Masi Magam day in February-March, Lord Annamalaiyar visits a place called Palli Pattu for Theerthavari; an event that represents Lord’s performing the last rites for Vallala Maharaja to whom he was born a son earlier.
Lord visits the temples in the surroundings on the 5th day of Thai month covering January-February and grants darshan to devotees at Kalasapakkam on the Rathasapthami day. It is on this day the Car (rath) of Sun turns northward marking the beginning of Utharayana period covering six months from January-February to June-July.
The 6 day wedding festival takes place on Panguni Uthiram in March-April. Almost every day in the month is a festival day in the temple. Pradosha – 13th day of new moon or full moon is devotionally observed in the temple. Special pujas are performed on Deepavali, Pongal and Tamil and English New Year days.
Details of Annual Festivals (Urchavam) of the Temple
Tamil Month
Festival Details
Chithirai (April - May)
Chittirai Vasantha Urchavam 10 days.
Vaikasi (May - June)
Vaikasi Urchavam 1 day.
Ani (June - July)
Ani Brahmorchavam 10 days.
Ani Thirumanjanam (Lord Nataraja Urchavam 1 day).
Adi (July - August)
Adi Pooram Brahmorchavam 10 days.
Avani (August - Sept.)
Avani Moolam Urchavam 1 day.
Puratasi (Sept. - Oct.)
Navarathri Urchavam 9 days.
Aippasi (Oct. - Nov.)
Annabisheka Urchavam 1 day.
Kanda Sashti Urchavam 6 days.
Karthigai (Nov. - Dec.)
Karthigai Deepa Brahmorchavam 17 days.
Margazhi (Dec. - Jan.)
Vaikunda Ekadasi Urchavam 1 day.
Arudra Dharisanam (Lord Nataraja Urchavam) 1 day.
Thai (Jan. - Feb.)
Utharayana Punyakala Brahmorchavam 10 days.
Thiruvoodal Urchavam 1 day.
Manalurpettai Theerthavari Urchavam 1 day.
Kalasapakkam (Rathasapthami).
Theerthavari Urchavam 1 day.
Masi (Feb. - March)
Maha Sivarathri Urchavam
Masi Makam Pallikondpattu Theerthavari Urchavam.
Panguni (March - April)
Panguni Uthiram Thirukalyana Urchavam 6 days.
Special Day's:
Details of Annual Festivals (Urchavam) of the Temple

Sri Durgambal Urchavam
Sri Durgambal on Kamadenu vahanam
Sri Pidari Urchavam 
Sri Pidariamman on Lion vahanam
Sri Vinayagar Urchavam
Sri Vinayagar on Mooshigam vahanam
First day festival
Panchamoorthies Silver Vimanam
Panchamoorthies, Mooshigam, Peacock, Adhikara Nandi, Hamsam small Rishaba Vaganam.
Second day festival
Sri Vinayagar, Sri Chandrasekhara vimanam Sun Crescent mount.
Panchamoorthies, Silver Indra vimanam etc.
Third day festival
Sri Vinayagar, Sri Chandrashekarar vimanam, Naga Vaganam
Panchamoorthies, Simha Vaganam, Silver Anna Vaganam etc.
Fourth day festival
Sri Vinayagar, Sri Chandrashekarar vimanam, Naga vimanam
Panchamoorthies, Silver Karpagavritcham, Silver Kamadhenu Vaganam and other silver vaganams.
Fifth day festival
Sri Vinayagar, Sri Chandrashekarar, Mooshigam Mirror Rishaba Vaganam 
Panchamoorthies, Silver Mooshigam, Silver Peacock, Big Silver Rishaba Vaganam display
Sixth day festival
Sri Vinayagar, Sri Chandrashekarar, Mooshigam, Silver Elephant, 63 Nayanmars vimanams.
Panchamoorthies Silver car, Indra vimanam and other Silver vimanams.
Seventh day festival
Panchamoorthies Maharahams between 5.30 a.m. and 7.00 a.m. in Viruchaga Lagnam Ratha Roganam Vadam.
Panchamoorthies reach Asthana Mandapam from the car.
Eighth day festival
Sri Vinayagar, Sri Chandrashekarar, Silver vimanam
Panchamoorthies, Horse Vaganam etc.
Ninth day festival
Sri Vinayagar, Sri Chandrashekarar, Mirror Vimanam.
Panchamoorthies, Kailasa Vaganam, Kamadhenu Vaganam etc.
Tenth day festival
Udayathpurvam 4’O Clock Bharani Deepam
Brammatheertham Theerthavari
At 6 p.m. Panchamoorthies on golden vimanams, Jyothi Swaroopa Maha Deepam. 
Panchamoorthies, Golden Rishaba Vaganam etc.
First day Theppal
At 8 p.m. Sri Chandrasekhara Theppal - Sri Abithakusambal with Sri Arunachaleswarar Giripradhakshanam
Second day Theppal
At 8 p.m. Sri Parasakthi Amman Theppal
Third day Theppal
At 8 p.m. Sri Subramaniar Theppal
Sri Chandikeswarar Utsavam
Sri Chandikeswarar Utsavam, Silver Vaganam.