The Karthigai Deepam festival is celebrated in the Tamil month of Karthigai(November-December). It begins on Uttradam day with flag hoisting and goes on for nine days.
Between the raising and the lowering of the flag, the temple is the scene of two types of activity during the day: each morning and evening the five deities, Shiva, the goddess, Subrahmanya, Ganapati, and Chandikeshvara, go around the car-streets in procession; before leaving, they present themselves in front of the sacrificial hall where the fire-ritual is performed twice a day, and receive on their foreheads a protective black spot made of ash mixed with ghee. On the seventh day the same deities, each on a huge wooden car, are led in turn around the four temple streets in a procession which lasts the whole day.
In the early hours of the tenth day Bharani Deepam in five agantams will be lit in Arunachaleswarar’s Sannithi. In the evening the Pancha Murthis will be brought to the Katchi Mantapam. At duck(Pradosha) the Karthigai day synchronising with the full moon day, the deity, Ardhanareeswarar is taken out to this place with the five deepams which are put in a big receptacle near the flag-stuff.
At the same time the beacon light on the hill is lit. The huge concourse of devotees from all parts of our country in a million voice raise a cry cimultaneously “Harohara to Annamalai” which will rend the air. It is a sight for the Gods to see. On the hill top there is a big copper turn in which large quantities of camphor, ghee and wicks(of cloths) are poured and when these are lighted it will be seen from miles around for somedays after the Deepam festival day. We do not have such a huge light in any other place of our country. On the same night the eleven storeyed Gopuram is also lit with “Ahals”(earthern oil lamps) set in rows in all the storeys. Though this festival is special to Tiruvannamalai it is common throught the Tamil country. Lighting festival is celebrated in all the temples of South India including Vishnu temples. All the houses will also be illuminated with number of lamps being arranged in rows to give beautiful appearance.