Thursday, December 31, 2009

Arudra Darisanam

Arudra darisanam - a religious and cultural festival of Tamilians. This falls on the full moon day of the tamil month Margazhi. Special prayers are held at all Lord Shiva temples. Milk, sandalpaste and other cooling liquids are offered to Lord Shiva to cool the god who was burning with anger while performing the Tandava nritya -- The cosmic dance of Nataraja. Arudra Darisanam (The sight of Lord Shiva) is also known as Thiruvadhirai.

Chidambaram - a place in cuddalore district of Tamilnadu is where Lord Nataraja abodes. It is believed here Lord Shiva danced in the Ananda Tandava pose (the cosmic dance of bliss) in the chit sabha( golden hall).

Lord Vishnu is supposed to have heard about Shiva’s cosmic dance . To witness this he descended to earth as Patanjali . At the appointed hour Shiva along with his consort Sivakami treats him visually to the cosmic dance of Bliss. This is supposed to have been witnessed by Lord Vishnu. This is one of the few places where there is a shrine for both Shiva and Vishnu.

The dance of Lord Shiva is frozen into metal and today is a symbol of Indian culture and is an idol which the Bharatnatyam dancers worship. It adorns many houses to symbolize Indian tradition and culture. It has also occupied a place of pride in my house too.

Today Thiruvadhirai kali (broken rice and moong dhal cooked with jaggery) and Ezhu than kootu ( 7 assorted native vegetables cooked in coconut and red chilli paste) are prepared for naivedhyam(bhog).

There is a beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Nataraja at Neyveli (near Pondicherry). It has a very big statue of Lord Nataraja. The temple is maintained very well. I feel at peace when i visit this temple.

Trip to Kerala - Part III

This is the 3rd and final part of my trip to Kerala in Dec 2008 & Jan2009

Day 3: We left to fort Kochi after our breakfast by road over a bridge overlooking the harbor. There were many cargo ships anchored. Fort kochi is a small community in itself with old world charm. Fort Kochi is one of the 3 islands which make Cochin along with Ernakulam and Mattancherry. The Europeans have left a major impact on the culture and traditional heritage of Cochin. One can see a unique blend of European, Dutch and Portugal lifestyle in fort of Cochin.

We headed straight to the southern naval command Maritime Museum, located at INS Dronacharya Kochi. It focuses on the maritime heritage of the Indian Navy. It showcases the evolution of Indian navy, its achievement and landmarks, artifacts, life size statues, paintings which highlight kerala’s trade links with Arabs, arrival of vasco-da-gama, the arrival of dutch, evolution of the port of Cochin etc. From here we walked over to a curvy non- commercial beach which had rocky shores. We enjoyed the Arabian sea waters hitting our feet.

From there to Vasco da gama square to see the Chinese fishing nets (called Cheena Vala) . A very simple place with no frills It has dabba shops, road side fresh seafood stalls selling fresh fish prawn just out of the cheena vala. This place must definitely be a haven for sea food lovers. Tender coconut shops were selling each coconut at 15rs that too in the land of coconuts.

From there we went to St. Francis church, The history of the church is that Vasco Da Gama on his 3rd visit to India died here. He was buried in the church. Nearly 14 years laters his remains were taken to Portugal. There were many antique and unique ware shops around the streets of the church. I did not pick anything.
Our next stop was at the Dutch Palace built originally by the Portuguese. Later on it was modified by the Dutch and it was gifted to the Raja of Kochi. This place has got many Kerala Mural paintings from the Indian epics and photos depicting the lineage of Rajas and the history of Kochi.

From there we went to the Jewish Synagogue but it was closed, so got down and roamed around the Jew town selling many curios.
After winding Fort Kochi went to the hotel to have our lunch and now we left Ernakulam to reach Kalady the birth place of Adi Sankaracharya on the banks or River Poorna. A very peaceful place. We also visited the Krishna temple adjoining the mutt and also the bathing ghats at River Poorna
And now drove straight to Guruvayoor. Reached there by 8pm, Booked a room close to the hotel.

After freshening ourselves we went straight to the temple for darshan. There was no queue. It was also the seeveli time and all the lamps (numbering more than 1000) were lit around the temple’s wooden framed structure designed specially into small squares with each square having a diya.The temple elephants are taken around the inner praharam of the temple with the God’s photo on one of the elephants and other elephants following the main elephant to the beats of the drums. This is called seeveli. The whole atmosphere of the light and sound transported us into a totally unexplainable divine world . After the darshan we walked back to our hotel room which was hardly 100 metres away. We walked in and out of all the shops and bought a mundu pavadai for shreya

Day 4: Bala and his friend (the family which accompanied us on the tour) got up early at 3.00 a,m to have the nirmalya darisanam. They were back by 6.00p.m. By 7.00p.m All of us were ready with the kids we now went to have the darshan again. There was less queque. We had a very good darshan and walked out of the temple with great satisfaction. Now from here we left to mammiyoor, a siva temple close by. It is mandatory for every devotee to visit this temple after worshipping guruvayoor. After a good darshan here, We came back and rested at our room and then walked out to do some shopping on the nearby shops. I bought few knick knacks, kerala mural paintings depicting ramar pattabhishekam(the coronation of Rama) and pallikonda ranganathar( reclining Vishnu) and Kerala appalams(when these are fried they look like puris).

After lunch we went to see the Elephant breeding spot belonging to the temple and the Goshala. The goshala was very clean and it also had a small tank where the local boys were having a good swim. We rested on the steps watching the boys.
Now it was time for us to leave Guruvayoor. We now headed straight to the Kerala Forest Institute’s Guest house at Peechi which was 29 kms away. We could not get any rooms in a decent hotel at palakkad/Thrissur owing to year end. So we were booked in this guest house.( Courtesy: G Chittappa who is a retired Director of Forest Research Institute, Coimbatore). We had a very good dinner at the guest house and retired to our rooms.

Day 5: The morning dawned for us at a beautiful place called Peechi located 23km from Thrissur. This place is full of lush green forests on hills and plains. It is home to numerous flora and fauna like many varieties of orchids, medicinal plants, tigers,elephants, Bison etc.This place is well known for Peechi Dam. It is a beautiful picnic spot. We visited the dam which was just 2kms from our guest house and left to Athirapally falls.One of the important waterfalls on the wooded forests of Western ghats. The water falls from the chalakudy river from a great height. I could only see it from the side since I never dared to walk down the steep for a better view. We settled ourselves comfortably amidst the small rocks on the chalakudy river and enjoyed the flow of water on our legs. It felt heavenly to see the forests around and inhaling the fresh unpolluted air with sounds of nature although there were many tourists around . After soaking in the lap of nature we trekked up the steps and drove a short distance up hill to see the vazhachal. This again is a picturesque spot amidst the forest laden sholayur ranges of the western ghats.

It was already 3.00p.m, so we drove down hill to reach (the uphill road from Vazhachal was a toll road leading to the other side of westernghats to enter Tamilnadu) Peechi. We had evening tiffins at a udupi restaurant on the highway. Got back to our rooms after a very delicious dinner at the guest house.

Day 6: This day dawned leisurely on a tiring timebound week. So got up at 8 and had tea on our balcony overlooking the terraced rubber, pepper plantations and a stream flowing below. We left our rooms after a while and went around the Guesthouse(built by lawrie Baker) and walked out of the campus to a bylane leading to the terraced plantations. It was a carefree walk on a bridge to the place. We plucked some pepperpods and a villager who showed shreya and sharun how latex was taken from the rubber plant. From the plantations we could see our room balcony. We freezed some stills and filmed some . After a small walk back, had our breakfast and started packing our things to leave for Thrissur. We winded our stay at Kerala with a good lunch and left for the Thrissur railway station.

Boarded the Sabari express at 2 in the afternoon at Thrissur, travelled past palakkad and coimbatore to reach Hyderabad.

The tour of the mind body and soul came to an end. We recharged back to Hyderabad to face our routine in the new year 2009(the year gone by) with great enthusiasm.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Trip to Kerala Part II

Part I has already been published Now read part II

Day 2: Got ready and headed to have the breakfast at the hotel. Delicious puttu kadla, appam & stew, idiappam, pazham puzhanghinadu( steamed nendram pazham - a variety of plaintain) , orange/pineapple juice were the menu. We had our pick and waited at the reception. Our friends family were to join us from Palakkad.

Now we hired a Tata sumo to take us on the whole journey. Now we were all set to visit Allepey (called Alapuzha regionally).

Alapuzha is a popular tourist spot. It is famous for its backwater boat trips, house boats,coir products and the world famous boat races held annually during tiru onam. The kuttanad region situated here is called the rice bowl of kerala. It is one of the very few places in the world where farming is done below the sea level. It is also called the venice of the east because of its canals. It also has a peculiar geographical feature of having the water in level with the land because of which we can enjoy the village beauty in close up from the sailing valloms. The primary mode of transport here is vallom(boat made from wood) which most of the houses have. People who can’t afford to have one make use of the vallom stop ( just like bus stop) where the people get on if they have to trade things like fruits, coconuts etc. in the city.

The two hour drive from our hotel brought us to the place(12 noon) where houseboats could be hired . We had lots of choice here. After bargaining we settled for a 4 hour drive on the backwaters. We hired a boat which was like a house( but not house boat*) had a roof of coir, 4 chairs and a bed. For the first few minutes we were all mesmerized by the house boats, the tiny hamlets, the scenic beauty - the beautiful swaying palm trees along the narrow canals winding through stretches of emerald green paddy fields , inhabited houses where clothes were dried outside, a school without children( Xmas vacation.), a resort where santa was put up, we reciprocated all those who waved at us from their house boats. After ferrying for a couple of hours we were now sick of the water smell and also very hungry. Our boat rider took us to a hotel where everything smelt of non-veg food. We could not get ourselves to eat the veg food served there. Finally forced ourselves with some curd rice and started ferrying again. By now we were not in awe any more. We found it boring and so did the children. Thank god the boys ( sharun and his friend) were carrying some video games. Then as we went by we saw a boat building workshop under a tin roof where the builders were chiselling wood and translating their exquisite expertise into beautiful houseboats. Stopped to have a look and then resumed towards the Kuttanad paddy fields soaking the beauty. We saw an islet( hardly 30X40) which had a single house. Finally made our way back to the place where we hired the house boats at 4 p.m.

Resumed our journey back to the hotel . Reached the city by 7.00p.m. Needless to say we were tired, had our dinner(don’t remember the menu) and hit the bed. Another hectic day awaiting

*A house boat has all the necessities of daily life like washing machine(with a clothes line at the rear), cooking range, fridge,LCD tv ,home theatre music system along with Dish network( the front end), an in house cook(if you prefer not to cook) , a generator and also an a/c in your bed room. It looks so similar to your house with modular kitchen etc., Many tourists hire them for 3-4 days. A two bedroom house boat costs 10 -12k /day depending on the facillites available. The biggest houseboat is a 6 bedroom boat.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The joy of christmas

It is the beginning of the winter solstice. The Christmas colors of red and green add warmth to the otherwise cool winds blowing out during winter. X-mas tree, star, nativity scene, festive holly berry,be-ribboned gifts, colored lights, red poinsettias, mistle toe, The reindeer driven Santa on the sleigh all make the moods more perkier and merrier.

All the shopping malls and lifestyle stores dress up their windows with Santa, snow, sleigh and the ice flakes. Bakeries stock marzipans, pastries, muffins, ginger breads, Yule logs, and not before I forget the plum cakes.

Cakes - reminds me of Nilgiris, the first supermarket chain of stores in India which started in 1905 always presents a cake exhibition of grand scale in Bangalore. Each year they take up a model and build a gigantic cake which becomes the highlight of the exhibition. They make big models ( height of 40 feet with sugar and gelatin) of any monument like Eiffel tower, Bangalore palace, Taj Mahal etc. They also make some small models. Latha , My sister was a food technologist at the Nilgiris, Brigade road branch for four years. She used to get the passes for the exhibition. The whole Brigade road would be decked up with festoons of colored lights and all shops would dress up their windows with red , green & white . A huge man dressed up like Santa would walk up and down the street distributing chocolates from his red stocking bag. Shreya and Sharun would be regular recipients every X-mas when we were in Bangalore. On the eve of New year(Dec 31st) the whole road would be blocked for vehicular traffic and one can see a lot of crowd there reveling to welcome the new year. It is the same atmosphere here in Hyderabad too. All the malls look decked up.

Now that this festival has acquired secular overtones, Our 300 family housing society also celebrated it with great cheer and joy. The children of our complex put up an entertaining cultural program (without bollywood/ Hollywood numbers). Shreya and her 7 friends took part in a Latin- American dance(Salsa). They were trained by one of our resident who is a good dancer. Sharun took part in the skit Noah Of Ark. Another resident rewrote the script to make it more comical.

Every time there is a festival/ occasion the residents get together. The children and sometimes the elders too provide cultural programs. The practice sessions teach the children to learn many things which are not a part of their curriculum like to work in a team, to adjust, be punctual, to make use of the given opportunity, caring, sharing etc., and so it was this X-mas too. There was lot of cheer and good will.

We have decked up the X-mas tree like every year. This practice of putting up X-mas tree started when shreya was 6 years old. We used to make all the tree embellishings at home. Chapatti dough would be moulded into balls, candy sticks, stars and then wrapped with silver/gold paper, the candy sticks would be painted white and then a shining red wiry paper would be wound around it. This time though we were besotted by the X-mas decorations stocked up at one of the Hyderabad stores. We picked up the items and decorated our artificial X-mas tree. Now we are awaiting Santa..... Do we hear the Jingle Bells?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Trip to Kerala - Part I

I am blogging on my trip to Kerala. Since I don’t want to miss any detail, I am serializing it into 3 parts. This is part I.

Last December 27th by now we had packed our bags to India’s most celebrated vacation spots- Kerala. The land known for panoramic backwater stretches, highlands, islands and the swaying palm (coconut) fringed beaches. This in fact has lent the state its name Kerala meaning --The house of coconuts.

We boarded the Sabari express from Secunderabad and reached Ernakulam next day noon. We were accompanied by another family whose children were shreya and sharun’s age . So needless to say we had an entertaining and comfortable journey. Next day we checked into Bharat Tourist Homes at Ernakulam. (Our friends alighted at Palakkad). Dumped our belongings into our rooms, refreshed ourself went to the reception to book a cab to Cherai beach. The reception guys at the hotel suggested we take a boat jetty instead of a cab. We walked half a km on the marine drive to the place where the jetty’s took off. We rode in the jetty to Vypeen Island. The half an hour ride costed us just 2rs/head.

Vypeen (also spelt vypin) is an island in Ernakulam district of Kerala. The island which is about 27 km long was formed in the year 1341 after a heavy flood. It is known to be the island having highest density of population in the world. It is connected to Kochi by a bridge from Kalamuku. There are regular boat services from Fort Kochi to Vypin Island. Narakkal is the business capital of vypin.

From Vypeen Island we took a local bus to a place close to Cherai. It was Christmas time; almost all houses were big and had a Christmas tree, star and nativity scene in front of their gardens. As we narrowed closer to the beach, we crossed many picture post card places. In some places there were no streets but only canals. So if one had to cross to the house on the other side they had to row in a boat. In variably most houses on either side of the canals had a vallom (boat like structure made from wood) tied to a tree. After an half an hour ride we were dropped a km away from the Cherai beach. From there we took an auto and reached Cherai beach. Cherai beach is called the princess of Arabian Sea. (The queen being Cochin).

Cherai Beach is a beach in the Cherai village of Ernakulam district of Kerala, south India. Cherai is a part of Island. The 15 km of long golden beach is very clean, shallow, and attracts swimming and sunbathing. This is one of the few places where we can see the lagoon (poyil) and ocean separated only by a few hundreds of meters. One of the main events in this beach is the tourism fest during December.

The beach which is usually not crowded was an exception during that time since it was Christmas vacation and moreover there was a 10 day annual cultural festival which highlighted the culture of Kerala. Shreya and Sharun enjoyed with gay abandon on the beach, there was no stopping them. I/ Bala took turns to accompany them on the sea and film their joy on our camcorder. It was delightful to see them prancing in the water and build sand castles. The setting of the sun also made a beautiful picture for a post card.

Late in the evening, we enjoyed the Kathakali dance drama on the beach. A little later we realized we had to rely on public transport so hurried out of the beach to take an auto. We were dropped at the local bus stop. Enroute to the bus stop we had to cross a narrow road whose edges on either side touched with the back waters. Here, the land was on par with the sea level. The fishermen on either side carrying lanterns and fishing made a beautiful sight.

From the bus stop we took a bus which took us directly to Marine drive in Ernakulam (Vypeen is connected to main land Ernakulam by a bridge and this was constructed in 2004). Alighted at the high court building and walked more than a km and half to our hotel. We also never realized the wariness since the whole road was full of activity as it was the fortnight preceding Christmas & New Year.

Reached the hotel and ordered dinner to the room. Mean while we refreshed ourselves from the beach sand, had dinner and snored away to deep sleep. Another sightseeing day awaiting us.

Await Part II.

Text in bold italics courtesy: Wikipedia

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Myriad moods of Margazhi

As already mentioned in of my previous blogs, margazhi(Margashira in sanskrit) is another favorite Tamil month of mine. This month extends from the latter fortnight of Dec to the first fortnight of the Jan. All the days of this month are festive though no auspicious occasions like marriages, starting new projects are taken up this month. The reason perhaps being one had to focus only on worshipping and not devote their energy into personal aspects. This month also seems to be the favorite of most lyricists and poets since they use this month as a part of their lyrics. Even Lord Krishna is in bhagavad gita is supposed to have said “of all the months, I am Marghazhi’

Rendering of the Andal Tiruppavai daily is one of the main events in the month. Andal, like Meera Bai was a great devotee of Lord Krishna and so she composed 30 verses in praise of Lord Krishna. Daily tiruppavai and tiruvempavai are sung in the temples. Religious minded people congregate in temples to listen to the discourse and chants. The discourse ends with the distribution of prasadam which is mostly venn pongal(Rice and moongdhal overcooked and spiced with pepper, jeera,ginger, salt and garnished with ghee and cashewnuts). Maybe, this was also done with intention that our body gets warmed up with the spices during the cool season.

Another speciality of this unique month is that people rise early in the wee hours of the morning called Brahma muhurtham(48 minutes prior to sunrise) wrap shawls or in bare bodies go around the streets singing bhajans.The first 6 months from mid Jan to mid July (Utharayanam) is the day time and the next 6 months mid July to mid Jan (Dhakshinaayanam) is the night time for the Gods. And this Maargazhi being the dawn of the day (Brahma Muhurtham) for the Gods, singing and chanting the glory of God is considered most auspicious.
The women folk design very intricate kolams (rangoli patterns) with rice powder in front of their house. The rice powder serves as food for the ants. This concept was perhaps introduced by our intelligent and wise ancestors so that we could inhale the ozone which is in abundance during the morning hours. Also by bending and stretching while putting kolams, you also exercise your body. So much of native wisdom, only we don’t realize and practice. We either question the practice or conveniently say in this scientific age it is not considered valid.

The high points of this month are also the Vaikunta Ekadashi, (the 11th day in the month), Arudra darisanam (full moon day), Hanuman Jayanthi and Ramana Aradhana (the birthday of RamanaMaharishi).

Lastly, the unparalleled Madras Music and Dance season popularly called December season. This is a cultural extravaganza for which carnatic musicians from all over the world land up on this part of the earth.

This event was started in 1927 to commemorate the founding of Madras Music academy in the month of December. This event was a result of the music conference held during the madras session of the Indian National Congress.

It is widely encouraged and patronized by very large business houses like Nalli, Havagrivas, Sundaram Finance, Rmkv, Pothy's and many more. It serves as a platform for upcoming musical and dance talent.

In short, this month the atmosphere is filled with myriad moods like religious, spiritual,health and music.

music season history courtesy: India heritage

Monday, December 7, 2009

Madras in Secunderabad

Yes, On Dec5th and 6th the whole of keyes high school ground( enclosed in a tent) seemed like mini Madras. All Tamil mama's and mami's and jean clad teens, tweens and tiny tots had gathered to watch The two hilarious tamil plays by the crazy creations troupe. It was my long time wish to see a tamil play.(seen in the still are Shreya, prithvi(sharun's friend)& sharun with Crazy mohan)

We watched the play 'meesai analum manaivi'on dec 5th.

Written by 'Crazy' Mohan, this play is a riotous comedy. directed by S.B.Kanthan (bro of mouli).

The hero Maadhu takes a resolution on Tamil New year's day(april 14) never to tell lies but he ends telling more lies. His justification of these lies is that it is in continuation of the lie told on April 13th( so it is not a new lie). Ramanujam, Madhu's 50- plus unmarried brother-in-law who falls in love at first sight with every second woman he comes across; Cheenu, Maadhu's colleague lands him in more trouble in the name of helping him; Mythili,his girl friend from Delhi madly in love with Maadhu, unaware of his marital status; and many characters like dead body gopalaswami, north indian girl Khushma Devi make the play hilarious. The whole ground was resounding with laughter.

On Dec 6th we saw 'Chocolate Krishna' a new play by the crazy creations. (though this was their 273rd stage show.) In this play Maadhu is a sales man in a chocolate company. He seeks the help of Lord Krishna(Crazy Mohan) to sell the chocolates and meet the targets set by the company. Here Maadhu is ably supported by his paati who's weakness is stealing, a flautist father who is yet to make a debut in a concert. Each dialogue was comical. The situation where Maadhu's boss gives TV interview deserves special mention. There was non-stop laughter from the young and the not so young. Two evenings well spent in the warmth of fellow tamilians. Shreya and Sharun thoroughly enjoyed the play. At home they have been enacting and mouthing dialogues. --The play hangover.

After seeing the play i was overawed by the hard work behind the play. Atleast in movies you have takes and retakes,editing etc.,. Here in the play, the players cannot afford to forget the dialogues, no retakes, everytime the set has to be erected in a new place, the arrangement of light settings and so many more things. Truly awesome teamwork.

Then, we shopped around the stalls for pickles and vattals specially brought from Madras. Hot Tasty south indian bajjis, vadais, jalebis and pongal, upma were served at the stalls outside.

We reached home in Secunderabad which was just 7kms from this mini Madras. My next wish is to see Savis's play 'Washingtonil Thirumanam'.

P.S : I like the sound of Madras to Chennai hence used the same name through out.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Karthigai and Tiruvannamalai

Karthigai maasam and Marghazhi maasam are two of my favourite thamizh months. Both are in the winter season.

Both the months are of special importance to Tamilians. This month we celebrate a festival very unique to tamilians called karthigai deepam festival. This festival is more than 3000 years old , older than diwali and navarathri. On this day many agal villakkus( lamps made of clay called diya) are lit outside the house in rows. ( tamilians don’t light diyas during diwali). We make many sweets with jaggery and arisi pori ( puffed rice) called arisi pori urandai, vella appam made with rice flour and jaggery , uppu appam made with rice powder, chillies,coconut scrapings. I too prepared all this delicacies today and shreya helped me light the agal vilakkus.
Today one could have counted the number of tamilians in my 300 houses society. It was a visual delight to see the vilakkus.

Well,now to the festival. The month Karthigai derives its name from the star Krithigai. Lord shiva created lord muruga with his divine light in this month.On the full moon day of karthigai month A big deepam is lit atop the Annnmalai hills at Tiruvanna malai.

"Skanda Puranam" sings the glory of the holy place through the words of sages Suta and Gautama, and Nandikeswara, the bull-mount of Lord Siva. It is said a dispute arose between Brahma, the creator and Vishnu, the protector, as to who is superior of the two.

Siva appeared before them as a column of fire, which enveloped the entire universe and a voice from the sky said, "Whoever will be able to see the beginning or the end of the light is the superior one." Vishnu took the form of a boar and went farther and farther down into the Earth to find the base of the light but He realised the futility of His quest. But Brahma who took the form of a swan flew high and when He could not find the head, he sought the help of a flower (thazhampoo) coming down from Siva's head, to tell the world that he was successful in his effort.

So Siva cursed Brahma that he will have no temple for him on the Earth and said that no one should offer thazhampoo during Siva puja since he lied. Celestials prayed to Lord Siva to control the raging fire, as they could not bear its heat. Heeding their plea Siva manifested Himself as Arunachaleswara. The celestials declared that whoever went around Arunachala hills with reverence would be blessed by the Lord in every way.

According to another legend, Goddess Parvati once playfully closed Siva's eyes and the entire world was plunged in darkness. Hence She did penance at Kasi , Kanchi and Thiruvannamalai. The Lord, pleased with Her penance, appeared before Her on Karthigai day in the month of Karthigai. To mark the occasion, Karthigai Deepam is lighted on that day. She prayed to the Lord that the people who worship Him as Arunachaleswara should be forgiven for their mistakes, committed knowingly or unknowingly.

To mark the event a big copper vessel is kept atop the hill in which tonnes of camphor, ghee and fresh cloth are placed and lighted. The light is visible from a distance of 20 km. Known as Bhookailayam, the Tiruvannamalai hills are home for numerous temples and ashrams including those of Ramana Maharshi, and Seshadri Swamigal, and Guhai Namasivayar Temple and Skandashramam.
There are as many as 360 holy water sources in the hills, the most important among them being Brahma Theertham and Sivagangai Theertham in the temple, and Agni and Indra Theerthams on the hills.
The Thiruvannamalai temple is one of the biggest in Tamil Nadu and its compound wall runs to a length of 1,320 metres.

Having said this much about tiruvannamalai, wait for my blog on Ramana Maharishi who also happens to be my relative.

source on karthigai. The hindu.