Uchchi Pilliyar Kovil, Trichy, TN aglow with Karthigai Deepam, 26th Nov..2023 oo

 The Karthigai deepam, also a festival of light is quite popular in Tamil Nadu festival and as far other  southern Indian states, its popularity is far less than Tamil Nadu. The Shive temple that occupies the center of attention  in this festival is Tiruvannamalai where god Shiva is a symbol of Agni (fire), one of the most significant  5 elements of nature Pancha Boothas that sustain life on earth. There are several places of worship  in this state where the Maha Deepam is lit with considerable fanfare, not on par with Tiruvannamalai temple where it is a.10 day festival. This year Karthigai Maha Deepam is held   on November 26. 

 Across Tamil Nadu  special pujas, etc., will take place at major Shiva temples and six abodes (temples) of God Muruga as the day marks the birth of  god Karthikeya (Muruga),. The belief has been that lighting earthen lamps on the deepam day will  help you get rid of ego and attain peace  and contentment in life. The homes will be free from evil forces and spells,  Across the state, Karthigai Deepam in the past 15 years has been celebrated with more  religious fervor and bhakti than ever before. Spirituality takes precedence over  materialistic life in the recent past. 

old image Karthigai deepam, rock fort, Trichy, TN indiatimes.com

old image Karthigai Deepam,Trichy rock fort temple .indiatimes.com

Ucchi Pillayar Temple, Trichy, TN  en.pinterest.com

rock carved Thayumanavar Swami Temple,Trichy. rvatemples.com

In Trichy (Tiruchirappalli) city  the rock fort complex with Thayumanavar Swami Temple and  Ucchi Pillayar Temple  is an important  landmark. The former is in the middle of the hillock and the latter is atop the hill (height 273 ft). Built by the the Pallava king   Mahendravarman I in the 6th century, the Vijayanagara rulers made additions. and the fort complex came up during the Nayak period. . The top of the hillock  has been the venue of Karthigai Deepam  for more than three  decades or so.

On the rocky hillock to light up annual Karthigai deepam (in November or December) a sturdy 40 ft tall steel  tower  was erected long ago and is periodically maintained by the temple officials.  Erected near the popular Sevvanthi Uchchi Pillaiyar  shrine, prior to the event it is fitted with 5ft tall heavy and big copper cauldron containing 700 liters of iluppa oil, sesame oil and ghee mixture  with 300m long thick cotton wick well soaked in the oil to burn. well. The cauldron (in Tamil Koppirai) has to be strong enough to bear the weight of the oil and  the heat being generated when the lamp is on.  The temple officials start the preparations several days before the deepam festival as they have to take the oil, huge wick, etc from adivaram,- bottom of the hill and climb 415 steps carved out of rock to reach the top,  More than 10 workers normally get involved in this work right from checking the stability of the steel tower, taking the huge wick uphill to the top, etc. Once ritual is over Copper cauldrons will be dismantled and kept safely to avoid damages when exposed to sunshine and rains,

wick & vessel,  Karthigai Deepam, Trichy 2019. maalaimalar.com

On  the deepam day  pujas will be performed  at the  Thayumanaswami temple (rock-cut shrine), dedicated to God Shiva in the form of Linga. His consort is Mattuvar Kuzhalammai (goddess Parvati). By around 5pm, again special prayers were performed by the priests and there will be religious procession around the Garbhagriha The evening puja is also held at the Sevvanthi Pillayar temple on top of the hill. 

At 6 pm Maha deepam will be lit on the tower (after Tiruvannamalai) on completion of customary puja in the presence of a large number of  devotees who have to climb the hill . The huge flame may last a few days. or more. The weather department predicts heavy rain as the SW monsoon is on, so the devotees keep their fingers crossed as heavy rain might affect the deepam.