2020 Karthigai Deepam Festival Restrictions
Because of complications
connected with the 2020 pandemic health situation, Karthigai Deepam
Festival had a number of restrictions imposed upon the way the Festival
was to be conducted in 2020.
Prior to the Festival, a public interest litigation petition was brought
by members of the public challenging the restrictions that were to be
imposed on the 2020 Karthigai Mahadeepam Festival at Tiruvannamalai.
However The Madras High Court refused to interfere with any of the
restrictions imposed by the Tiruvannamalai district administration.
Below is a narrative of the High Court Ruling concerning the 2020
Karthigai Deepam Festival.
High Court Ruling: 2020 Karthigai Deepam Festival
"High Court says no to modifying restrictions imposed on Tiruvannamalai Karthigai Deepam festival
The Madras High Court on Wednesday refused to interfere with any of the
restrictions imposed by the Tiruvannamalai district administration with
respect to conduct of the Arunachaleswarar Temple's 17-day Karthigai
Deepam festival which began on Tuesday and is scheduled to end on
Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and R. Hemalatha took judicial notice of
numerous lives that had been lost due to COVID-19 and also the fact that
lakhs of devotees congregate in the temple every year to witness
various rituals associated with the annual festival. They felt that it
would be very difficult to follow the COVID-19 standard operating
Disposing of a public interest litigation petition filed by V.
Sakthivel, State vice-president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the
Bench observed that people in such gatherings generally lack self
discipline and hence relaxing any of the restrictions might make it
difficult for the police to control the crowd and lead to other
Though the petitioner's counsel insisted that the Urchavamoorthy must be
taken in a temple car on the four Mada Veethis around the temple on
November 26, the judges said they were not inclined to interfere with
the decision taken by the district administration as well as temple
management to take the Panchamoorthigal only on the fifth Pravesam
within the precincts of the temple to avoid gathering of large crowd to
witness the car festival.
The judges hoped that the restrictions imposed on the festival would be
for this year alone and normalcy would be restored from next year. The
observation was made since the petitioner feared that permitting any
change to the mode of conduct of the festival would become a new normal
and the temple management might not revert to old practices thereafter.
Explaining the restrictions imposed, advocate AK Sriram, representing
the temple management, told the court that only 800 devotees would be
permitted inside the temple every two hours after insisting upon wearing
of masks, checking their body temperature and so on. The devotees would
be allowed inside the temple only till November 28.
The Bharani Deepam would be lit at 4 am and the Maha Deepam at 6 pm on
November 29 when no devotee would be allowed inside the temple. "We will
not be able to control the crowd, if we allow devotees inside the
temple on that day. When it comes to the question of health, we must
strike a balance between it and the need to follow religious practices
and rituals," he said.
The counsel added that the Theppa Utsavam would generally be conducted
at Ayyankulam which was about two kilometres away from the temple.
However, this year, it had been decided to conduct the ritual in the
Brahma Theertha Kulam inside the temple. Only those required to conduct
the Utsavam would be allowed inside the temple on that day and entry
shall be barred for devotees. The entire festival would come to an end
with the Sandikesavar Urchavam on December 3".
Restrictions on the 2020 Karthigai Mahadeepam Celebrations
Because of complications connected with pandemic restrictions, Karthigai
Deepam Festival had a number of restrictions imposed upon the way the
Festival was to be conducted in 2020. These restrictions included:
No processions of the Gods on the Mada Veddhi Streets (i.e. perimeter streets around Arunachaleswarar Temple)
Processions only to occur inside the Arunachaleswarar Temple Compound
No girivalam on the day of Mahadeepam i.e. November 29, 2020
No anandham to be offered to devotees in public places
Limited processions to take place inside the Temple Compound and would
not include any large chariots or vahanams (i.e. Maharadham, Wish
fulfilling Tree and Cow, Golden Rishaba etc)
Theppal on November 30, December 1, December 2 would not take place at
the traditional venue of Ayyankulam Tank and instead be conducted at the
Brahma Tirtham inside Arunachaleswarar Compound
Entry inside the Big Temple only allowed by prior permission via online application to Arunachaleswarar Temple
Public not allowed into Temple Compound on the day of Mahadeepam i.e. November 29, 2020
The Gods would not be brought on girivalam procession (November 30) on the morning after Mahadeepam
Public not allowed to climb Arunachala to make personal ghee offerings
No Cow Fair to be conducted at Tiruvannamalai during the 2020 Festival
As a consequence of the above restrictions, the celebration of this 2020
Karthigai Deepam Festival was very limited and sparsely attended.
To view the pictorial albums of the 2020 Festival please go to this LINK.