Karthigai Deepam at Annamalaiyar Temple, Tiruvannamalai: A Radiant Festival of Light

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage


Karthigai Deepam, one of the grandest and most spiritually significant festivals celebrated in Tamil Nadu, India, is a beacon of light that attracts devotees and enthusiasts from around the world. Celebrated at the illustrious Annamalaiyar Temple in Tiruvannamalai, this festival is not just a feast for the eyes but also a profound spiritual experience. Let’s delve into the splendor of Karthigai Deepam and understand why it holds such a special place in the hearts of millions.

The Significance of Karthigai Deepam

Karthigai Deepam is celebrated in the Tamil month of Karthigai (November-December), coinciding with the full moon day. This festival marks the convergence of Lord Shiva and fire, symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. The celebration is rooted in the legend of Lord Shiva appearing as an infinite pillar of light to prove his supremacy to Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma. This pillar of light, known as the Karthigai Deepam, is commemorated by lighting a massive fire atop the Annamalai Hill.

Annamalaiyar Temple: The Sacred Abode

The Annamalaiyar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is nestled at the base of the Annamalai Hill. It is one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, representing the element of fire. The temple’s grand architecture, towering gopurams (gateway towers), and intricate sculptures add to the festival’s magnificence. Devotees believe that a visit to this temple during Karthigai Deepam washes away sins and brings divine blessings.

The Grand Celebration

The celebration of Karthigai Deepam at Annamalaiyar Temple is a spectacle of light and devotion. The festival spans ten days, culminating in the lighting of the Maha Deepam. Here are the key highlights of the festival:

  1. Dwajarohanam (Flag Hoisting): The festival begins with the hoisting of the temple flag, symbolizing the commencement of the festivities. This event is accompanied by traditional music, chants, and rituals.
  2. Bharani Deepam: On the day of Bharani star, a small lamp is lit inside the sanctum sanctorum, signifying the arrival of Lord Shiva. This marks the beginning of the Deepam rituals.
  3. Lighting of the Maha Deepam: The pinnacle of the festival is the lighting of the Maha Deepam on the evening of the Karthigai Deepam day. A gigantic cauldron filled with ghee and camphor is placed atop the Annamalai Hill. As the sun sets, priests light the Maha Deepam, and the flame is visible for miles around. This moment is accompanied by chants of “Annamalaiyarukku Haro Hara,” reverberating through the town.
  4. Illumination of the Temple and Town: The entire Annamalaiyar Temple and the town of Tiruvannamalai are adorned with countless oil lamps, creating a mesmerizing and ethereal atmosphere. The glow of the lamps symbolizes the dispelling of darkness and the infusion of divine light.
  5. Processions and Cultural Events: The festival includes various processions of Lord Shiva’s idols, accompanied by traditional music and dance. Cultural events, spiritual discourses, and classical performances add to the festive fervor.

A Call to Global Participation

Karthigai Deepam at Annamalaiyar Temple is not just a local or regional festival; it is an invitation to people from across the globe to experience the spiritual and cultural richness of Tamil Nadu. Here are some ways for international enthusiasts to engage with the festival:

  • Plan a Visit: Experience the festival firsthand by visiting Tiruvannamalai during Karthigai Deepam. The town offers a unique blend of spirituality, culture, and hospitality.
  • Virtual Participation: For those unable to visit, many temples and cultural organizations stream the festival live. Participate virtually to witness the grandeur and perform your own lamp-lighting rituals at home.
  • Cultural Exchange: Engage with local communities and participate in cultural exchange programs. Learn about the significance of the festival, traditional lamp-making, and the preparation of festive delicacies.
  • Spread Awareness: Share the story and significance of Karthigai Deepam with your friends and family. Use social media platforms to spread awareness and encourage others to participate.


Karthigai Deepam at Annamalaiyar Temple, Tiruvannamalai, is a celebration that transcends geographical boundaries. It is a festival that illuminates the spirit, brings communities together, and reinforces the universal values of light and knowledge. By participating in this grand festival, whether in person or virtually, one can truly experience the divine and the timeless traditions of India. Let the light of Karthigai Deepam guide us all towards a path of wisdom and enlightenment.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - A specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

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