Nandana varusham, the new tamil year was born on Friday, April 13th. The Hindu almanac is divided into two calendar years in India, one is the lunar calendar year (Chandra varusham) and the other is the solar calendar year (Ravi varusham). Tamil Nadu and Kerala are the only regions in India which follow the solar calendar year unlike the other regions which mostly follow the lunar calendar year. The Tamil New year is born in the middle of April which is the first day of the month of Chithirai according to the Tamil calendar and it coincides with the day of the Indian summer equinox. People celebrate the new year like a religious festival and in Tiruvannamalai too, on this day they do giri pradakshina, perform pujas and religious ceremonies in their homes and then go to temples to worship the Lord.
In the big temple of Lord Arunachaleswara, the beautiful golden chariot is taken out in honour of this day and the God and Goddess ride out on procession in all their magnificence and splendour. It is indeed a wondrous sight to see the Gods bedecked with jewels and flowers, seated majestically inside the chariot of pure gold and the air is rent with loud exclamations of wonder and piety as the chariot makes its way, around the vast courtyard of the temple, pulled by hundreds of earnest hands.
On the other hand, in the village of Adi Annamalai, the Tamil New Year is the day on which they celebrate the spectacular festival of Laksha Deepam or One hundred thousand lamps. The festival venue is the the Renuka Amman temple which can be seen on the left side of the outer girivalam path right as one crosses the village of Adi Annamalai. Around sunset, the temple courtyard was already filled with village people who had come to start drawing the Kolams or sacred designs on the ground. Though not much is known about the antecedents of the festival, it seems to be a way of welcoming the new year and also a ritual to propitiate the Goddess so that the summer would not be too hot and that She would send rain from time to time to cool the parched earth and the people. The festival happenings itself are quite simple. First many beautiful colourful Kolams are drawn all around the temple and then one hundred thousand clay-oil lamps are placed and lit all over the arena. After this, the Goddes is venerated with a huge abhishekam and then finally brought outside in procession through the streets of the village.
It is an interesting and colourful sight to see the rural folk, both men and women, young and old, all dressed in their festive best and participating so enthusiastically in making the Kolams and arranging and lighting the one hundred thousand oil lamps. Many women devotees were singing hymns in praise of the Goddess asking Her for blessings and cool rain during the hot summer. An elaborate Aarthi puja was performed after the lighting of the lamps. Later that night, the Goddess was beautifully decorated and then raised on a pedestal and placed on a wooden palanquin. She was then borne in procession by many men around the village of Adi Annamalai where the residents of the village honoured Her, made offerings and worshipped her with devotion !