Tiruvannamalai Shri Arunachala Temple Elements :
Tiruvannamalai is the capital of Saivism and saiva cult is a world apprehended. The South Indian The nature of a god Siva is the God of all countries. Annamalaiannal is the most sacred of the names of the manifestation of Lord Siva.
Pancha Bootha Sthalam (5 Nature Attributes)
The earth is formed by five basic elements namely
- ETHER. Our ANCESTORS
these are called as "Pancha Boothas" and associated them with five sacred places for worshipping Lord Arunachala Siva.
And the center of these five elements for Fire is identified with Thiruvannamalai. ATHARA STHALAM.
Thiruvannamalai is the most sacred of these twenty two Called (Ninaithale Mukthi Tharum Thiruthalam). Place for Salvation SivaPuranam notable four sacred places for obtaining salvation. Thiruvannamalai is one among them. The significance of this place is that by mere remembrance of Lord Arunachaleswarar at this place gives salvation to all souls (Ninaithale Mukthi Tharum Thiruthalam).
and so on have visited Thiruvannamalai They are the famous purnic Saint poets and all of them prayed Lord
Arunachala and have composed divine poems:
Saint Manickavasagar had lived at Thiruvannamalai for long period and had composed:
"Thiruvempavai - 20" and "Thiruvammanai".
Even today there is a temple for Saint Manickavasagar on the tiruvannamalai Girivalam path at a place named Adi-Annamalai. temple name called as Thirumurai Thalam
There are 275 sacred places (Lord Arunachala Siva Temples) which were praised by the hymns of Thevaram and were
called "Thirumurai Thalangal". Of these places twenty two are found in tamil Nadu (a part of Tamil Nadu ).
Mahan and Siddhars
Thiruvannamalai is the "Manipooraga Sthalam", which is one among six athara sthalams. Thiruvannamalai is
so sacred that even Gods, and celestials offered their prayers. Tradition has it that
- EIGHT VASUS
and so on have worshipped here. Saints and Scholars Thiruvannamalai has been the abode of Siddhars. Idaikkattu Siddhar, one of the eighteen Siddhars,
belongs to this sacred soil.
Mahan Seshadri Swamigal
Thiruvannamalai has the honour of providing an abode for saints such as:
- Gugai Namachivayar
- Guru Namachivayar
- Arunachala Desikar
- Mahan Seshadri Swamigal
- Bagawan Ramana Maharishi
- Sri Yogi Ram Surathkumar.
Tiruvannamalai Shri Arunachala Temple seen from the hill :
The view of the temple from the hill slopes is really contemplating.The courtyards surrounding the central shrine where courtyards built of stone tall gourmands seen very dominatingly and other buildings being scattered in the courtyards under the shade of big trees.
The other shrines are also present within this big courtyard.The God Shiva is associated with each of the five elements namely Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether in five different holy places with Tamilnadu. As we already know after hearing the story of how Lord Arunachala Shiva attained the mountain roopam and enlightened as a dense volume of fire here in Thiruvannamalai. The Lord Shiva is Fire here in Thiruvannamalai. The temple is the result of more than nine centuries of building process.Enlargements and alterations have been succeeded one another, can find the dates of work from the inscriptions engraved on the walls since the 10th century. The engravings tells about kings, donors.It is also said that the actual places of worship of temple was merely a small isolated temple.This temple for over so many years rebuilt and altered many times is the major total part we see now. The courtyards increased as building and started to include new buildings within the existing walls started to get included thus taking many years of construction. The outer area is 465m long and 225 metres wide as per the dating from the 16thCentury.
The alterations have continued up till now inside the walls and can expect more to come in future also. This temple of Lord Arunachala Shiva is the holy place for one to attain Salvation and get the full grace of Lord Shiva. The rules over this premises and that is why people from over far distances come in thousands to thousands, year after year to make their janmam punya of this janma.
The Grand Entrance of the temple (Raja Gopuram):
The eastern entrance gopuram is the main entrance of the temple. This tower is situated in the outer wall and this tower dominates the eight other towers which crown the gates made in the walls at the four cardinal points. This gopuram (tower) is 54m high with pyramid shaped made of stucco-coated bricks has massive stone at its base.
Inside and outside of the temple
The eastern gopuram is the main entrance to the temple inside. The inner most shrine opens to the east and accommodates the main deity, Lord Shiva. The courtyards are counted, starting from the centre. There are said to be seven of them. But it is said five were built, first one disappeared in the course of nine centuries of extensions and alterations the sixth is represented by four "Chariot Streets" around the temple seventh by the road surrounding the hill.
The location of the Shrines dedicated to the deities and the buildings used for rituals are strictly laid out so that they are oriented to the east. In the corner of a courtyard, to the Southern-Eastern side are the kitchens where the Brahmins prepare the offerings consisting of cooked food. Trees inside are considered to very scared. The tanks and wells are also sacred which is used for the purification rituals. The inner most shrine called garbha graha, a house of small square room which is cramped to dark insides the sellai, the image of Lord Shiva. It is always in the form of "Lingam". This is an upright stone, square at the bottom, Octagonal in the middle, then cylindrical with a rounded top. The base is embedded in a circular or oval plinth. The devotees watch the worship from the hall in font of it in the form of queque The outside of the temple covered up by many vendors stall holders, florists busy people going round the temple which is said to be "Maada-Veedi", the path around the temple, in which the Lord Shivamoorthi is taken for procession on the festival occasion of Karthikai deepam. So this path around the temple out is said to be sacred for going around which is also equal to going round the mountain as well. This path is indeed blessed and used by Lord Shiva on his procession on the occasions successfully.
Temple Daily Life and activities:
This big temple symbolises a religious locality of a city inside. People keep moving on their work from here to there within the courtyards and buildings inside the temple. The people inside the temple performing Godly, work and duties are always a "Hindu a Brahmin” who has the right to nomad anywhere, anyhow, anytime. These people are mainly at the work of performing duties to God, cooking food, cleaning Singing for God, decorating the God etc. many things wordless to say indeed. Others are the devotees who go to pray, meditate or even rest for peace and even abide themselves to the service of God. We can also see an "Elephant" which is sacred stays within his mahout under the pavilion supported by columns near the hundred pillared hall. He gives his blessings by placing its trunk over the heads of the devotees who, in turn given him an offering as a coin or some eatables to eat. The people associated to the temple are all Brahmins. The men are of high caste with a dhoti and a "Sacred thread" across their chest over left shoulder. Only they have the rights to perform the rites. These men pass on the knowledge and responsibilities to their sons as they are married. The daily evenings the mahout washes the elephant with the help of other temple servants near a well in the fifth courtyard. The people who come to pray can also can also rest and have meal in the third courtyard or anywhere else after this courtyard.
There is a Brahma tank after the Long chain of steps which leads to this purifying tank where devotees perform their ablutions. The shaving of men's and women’s head is done by barber in the fifth courtyard. The shaving of head is said to be an offering to God. There is regular worship, pooja four times a day. Food and flame offering are made through the priest, who is well known of the mantras and officiates at the statue. The ceremonies are numerous which takes place according the lunar calendar and even performed at the request of devotees. The devotees who pay special offering or offer absishekams, pujas are always accompanied with music called 'Maryadham" by the temple musicians and also is blessed by the priest with vibuti and a big garland of "Lord Shiva" after the darshanam.
The sacred dance as a religious ceremony is attributed to the gods. It is well liked by the Gods also. The South India is well known for the temples tradition, music, poojas and dance also. Among them, well known and familiar dance of South India is "Bharatatanatyam". Lord Shiva himself is well known as, a great dance performer a scholar and is called under the name of Nataraja. It is said that Goddess Parvathi taught this art to humans. The temples of South India have had great dancers from century to century in the temples to which they belong. Like that those great dancers, the temple of Tiruvannamalai also had one great devadasi a servant of God. Her name was Nalini. She was dedicated to God of this temple at the time of birth by her family to the service of Lord Shiva. Since the age of six for more than seven years, he was taught and trained in the ultimate techniques of attitudes and gestures, which had a very perfect precise meaning. She had learnt to read and write and had studied the religious tests which provide the inspiration for her dances. She was educated, which was a quiet a big thing for the girls in 1845. The tapping of her bare feet on the ground and the tinkling of small bells adorning her ankles set the rhythm of the skillful play of her gestures and poses. Nalini could express all the nuances of the story she was telling with her body. She was really a great dancer of the temple at tiruvannamalai
The Grand Celebrations of Festival, Karthikai Deepam:
The festival of Karthikai Deepam is a great religious festival of the lunar month of Karthikai which is between November-December. The celebration of the Karthikai Deepam is very important for Tiruvannamalai as per the legend, Shiva manifested Himself in the form of a column of fire which for the sake of mankind. He later transformed into the sacred Hill Arunachala. The hill is still worshipped as a manifestation of Shiva and the Karthikai Deepam Festival has been held from time immemorial to commemorate this event. For ten days, numerous ceremonies take place in temple and in the town also. On the tenth day, when the constellation of Karthikai is in conjunction with the full moon, the fetival reaches its climax and the Holy Beacon is lit on the summit of the hill. The buzzing crowd of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world swarm in the courtyards to ardently fellow the worship performed in various shines of Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha, Muruga. The people follow the deities as they are taken out and carried in procession with great pomp and show with lightings, dance, Music, Chanting, doing artist and poojas and mainly decorate the shrines with good clothing, costly jewellery loving and charming flower work of garlands and carry the shrine in great grand and lofty chariots. On there occasions only the heads and hands emerge from the shimmering skills and glorious flowers that the deities are draped in.
One can be dazzled by the incredible sumptuousness of the gold and precious stone jewellery with which they are adorned. One can inhale the fragrance of the huge garlands decorating them and the healthy aroma of the camphor and incense that are being burnt everywhere in their honor. And lastly, one can thrill to the vibrant music of the oboes and drums which accompany all the ceremonies. Thus, this festival takes place every year and is more or less unchanged inspite of the centuries
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