Karthikai Deepam festival at rockfort temple, Thiruchirapalli - restrictions persist due to COVID -19

Maha Deepam at Thiruchi, TN.timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Above image: Last year 29th November 2020  Maha deepam at Thirichirapalli city. Giant oil lamp lit atop the Rockfort temple complex .............. 

Uchipillayar temple,'Karthigai Deepam,Tiruch, thehindu com

This year Kathkai Depam festival  falls on 19 November  and it is supposedly  a grand celebration at the Arunachaleswarer temple Thiruvannamali, Tamil Nadu, but this year like previous two years will be devoid of pomp and religious procession. Apart, admission to the temple during festivities will be very much curtailed due to COVID-19.

location map, Thiruchirapalli city, Tamil Nadu. mapsofindia.com

The most interesting event lighting of Maha Deepam atop the Arunachala  hill  is to take place in the evening around 6 pm. Again, the number of people accessing the hill will also  be  limited to the minimum  to avoid  large gathering of devotees in one place. 

 Next to Thiruvannamali   in the last  decade, lighting of Maha deepam atop the rock fort  hillock, Thiruchirapalli city has assumed much importance. So were the Maha deepam events  atop Palani hill and Thiruparangundram near  Madurai. The latter are the abodes of God Muruga (Karthikaya).

Ganapathy temple, Rockfort hillock, Thiruchirapalli city.flicker.com

Rockfort hillock, Thiruchirapalli city.alchetron.com

In the Thayumanavar Temple in the Rockfort complex (Malaikottai in the city of Tiruchirappalli, India, Shiva is worshiped as Thayumanavar, and is represented by  a Suyambu  lingam and his consort Parvati is  known as Mattuvar Kuzhalammai. Here, legend has it that  God is believed to have  appeared as the mother and helped  his  woman devotee Rathnavathi deliver a baby. Hence he is referred to as ''Thayumanavar'' meaning 'mother as well'.  Believed to have been built by the Pandyna king in the 8thcentury the temple is in the middle part of the hill complex  on the way to Uttichpilliyar (God Ganapathy) temple atop the hillock  which is 273 foot tall. 

Last year on the evening of 29 November   around 5.45 Pm special puja was performed  for Thayumana swami with Deepa ardhana. From the Bharani Deepam around 6 pm Maha Deepam was lit on a specially built tower  near the Ganapahy temple.  The Maha Deepam could be visible  from many parts of the city.  The temple officials followed strict instructions due to COVID -19 situation;  devotees were not allowed inside the Shiva temple and also in the Pillaiyar temple.

Karthikai deepam, rockfort  temple, Thiruchirapalli.thiruthalangal.com

This year also there are restrictions on the number of devotees visiting the rock fort temple complex.  For Maha deepam the officials already started the preparation of huge cotton wick - 300 meters and procured huge quantity of  Sesame  oil (nallennai) and Elluppai oil (Mahua) to be  blended with large quantity of Ghee (purified butter). Total quantity of oil in the Koppurai (cauldron) will be around 900 liters.  The koppurai used is made of  high quality copper metal.  Already the   workers  transported the wick in the form of a bundle and kept in the Koppurai atop the  20 foot tall  steel tower  (specifically built for this purpose) on completion of  curtain   formal rituals like Poorvanga puja, etc.  

The wick will be soaked in the oil for about a week  prior to  the main event so that it could absorb enough oil enabling the deepam to burn  without any flickering.  After Karthikai deepam, the Maha deepam atop the hillock will  continuously burn for three more days. Tomorrow (19 November) around 5.30 pm there will be special puja  and later deepa Aradhana for God Shiva.  The deepam from the Bharani deepam will be used to light the Maha Deepam  around 6 pm atop the  steel tower on the Rockfort hilloc.k

Hindu households in the city and temples will light the oil lamps after the Maha deepam event  around 6 pm. 

Karthkai Deepam,  twitter.com

Normally tens of thousands of  devotees will throng the temples across   Tamil  Nadu on the karthikai Deepam day, particularly at places like Thiruvannamai, Tiruchi rockfort temple, Palani Dhandayuthapani temple and Thiruparamkundram Subramaniya Swami temple. But only in the last two years, this festival was held without joy due to COVID -19  that might impact on the crowds.

The traditional belief of this famous festival has been that   the ensuing  new year will bring in happiness, prosperity and self-contentment.   Let us hope people will be free from the fear of New COVID -19 virus and positivity will take hold on us relegating the negative elements to the back stage.