An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle monitored crowd
Lakhs of devotees participated in the Karthigai Deepam festival here on Sunday.
The festivity began with the lighting of the ‘Barani Deepam’ (earthen lamp) in the ‘ardha mandapam’ of Arunachaleswarar temple at 4 am. A large number of people worshipped the lamp as it was taken around by a priest.
The crowd started to swell around the ‘girivalam’ path since early morning. Members of Parvatharajakula Fishermen clan, called ‘Deepa Nattars’, who traditionally light the Mahadeepam, went up the hill. The cauldron filled with ghee had a huge wick and camphor. Simultaneously, rituals began in front of golden flag-mast of the temple as the deities of ‘panchamurthis’ were taken out to the Deepa Darisana Mandapam.
A concert of devotional songs by ‘Drums’ Sivamani and others was held. Exactly at 6 p.m., the idol of Ardhanareeswara was taken out to the arena. Men carrying the idol changed it from one shoulder to the other at lightning speed, giving the deity the famous dancing effect. Within moments the Ardhanareeswara was taken back into inner precincts.
At the same time, the Mahadeepam was lit atop the hill. On sighting it, the town, virtually in the dark till then, lit up. An array of earthen lamps was lit, electric lights were switched on, crackers drew colourful patterns on the sky and the chant ‘Annamalaiyanukku Arokara’ reverberated everywhere.
Since black clouds were hovering over the peak of the hill, the Maha Deepam could not be sighted clearly from the ground for about half an hour after it was lit. Union Minister of State V. Narayanaswamy was among the VIPs who took part in the festival. Thousands of police personnel were deployed as part of the security arrangements. An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was used to monitor the crowd.