Girivalam around sacred Arunachala hill, Thiruvannamalai, TN (28th Oct. 2023 Pournami), a brief note

Girivalam, Thiruvannamalai, TN.

Girivalam (in Tamil 'Giri' means a hill and Valam means going round clock-wise) or Giri Pradakshina (in Sanskrit Giri meaning hill, Pradhakhana means going round)  is altogether  a different religious undertaking with  intense concentration and commitments that have both inherent spiritual and religious connotations combined into one. It is more or less  a religious pilgrimage  consisting of circumambulating a huge hill called Arunachala hill at the bottom. Girivalam is synonymous with this holy hill (ht. 2668 ft) and  the Arunachaleswarar temple (dedicated to God Shiva representing Agni - one of the 5 natural elements), Thiruvannamalai  and the religious tradition has been around for centuries.

devotees on the girivalam path, /

Devotees in thousands including children undertake this religious ritual particularly on the full Moon day - Pournami and Pradosha kala girivalam is rare and and an auspicious one. It involves brisk walking barefoot around the hill on the girivalam path (stretching 14 km) with chanting of Namachivaya and ii hs yo be completed before the  moonlight faded into  early dawn.

.Arunachaleswar temple, TN.

On the girivalam path which winds through wooded areas at the  base of  sacred Arunachala hill  there are several small temples and 8 lingas which the devotees worship as part of girivalam. The entire area is well guarded by the police particularly, when there is  a huge rush of devotees.  Lots of people visit this temple attracted by the prevalence of spiritual ambiance in and around the town. There are many ashrams run by saints and yogis who are known to have served the society in many ways, putting the monetary benefits on the back burner. 

It is obvious that  Year round lakhs of devotees do Girivalam preferably on the 'Pournami day' (full moon day) that comes once a month. The purpose was to  get peace of mind and to get blessed by the god to get past the seesaw ups and downs in life. People prefer girivalam  on certain days especially,  in the days,  preceding or following Karthigai deepam, going round the holy hill, where the karthigai Deepam (Maha Deepam) is lit; it is said to be  the most  auspicious one. 

Religious benefits apart, health wise, it is good for the heart muscles and  one develops physical as well as mental endurance.  Peace of mind, tranquility and strong will power will add positivity to our life and help us move forward   afresh. The net result is contentment and blissful life.  

Aippasi, 2023 girivalam:  beginning  on Saturday, Oct 28th early morning 4. 17 am and ends in the following day (sunday) 29th in 1. 53. Ashwayuja Pournami /Tula Masam Velutha Vavu.

This time as usual the state government took every precaution for the safe conduct of  Girivalam. The police have also checked the bonafides of more than 300 saints from TN and other states