The new moon falling in the tamil month of Vaikasi (May-Jume) is Vaikasi Amavasya. This happens to be an important occasion in the big temple of Arunachaleswara and one of the grandest abhishekams of the year is celebrated to the Utsava Murthy, Lord Shiva-Somaskanda (whose shrine is in the left corridor of the inner mandapam of the main sanctum). The ceremonies start early in the morning with Rudra japa and Mahanyasam during which the kalasams and all the abhishekam elements are consecrated.
After this, the actual Maha Abhishekam commences. It is indeed an impressive array. There are about 5000 litres of milk in cans. Hundreds of pots of sandalwood paste, ghee, curd, honey, turmeric and rose water are kept in front of the deities. Flower garlands and flowers dear to Lord Shiva are heaped in the side aisles for the alamkaram to the Gods. Fruits of the trinity, mangoes, bananas, jackfruits and also pomegrenates, dates and coconuts are brought in baskets. The Brahmin Archaka priests work with tireless energy carrying the hundreds of pots to the pedestal where they are received with devotion by the Gurukkal brahmin priests who then bathe the gods elaborately with the different elements. The devotees who are assembled to watch the Abhishekams are overcome by spiritual fervour every time the milk or curd or honey or ghee is poured on the deities, and as it gently flows down, the air is charged with sacred enthusiasm and devotional energy. The temple musicians play unstintingly throughout the celebration which takes place for upto over 8 hours.
The Arunachaleswara temple of Tiruvannamalai stands as a towering pillar in the beautiful and elaborate manner with which they perform all the ceremonies due to the Gods and thus celebrate and preserve ancient sacred traditions. Needless to say be it scorching sun or pouring rain, the Gods here are always honoured properly at all the appropriate occasions.