In the tamil month of Aani (june-july) there takes place the first of the two important festivals dedicated to Lord Nataraja, the second one being in December. The Aani Thirumanjanam festival is believed to correspond to the period of ‘between two’ which highlights the transition from day to night, the moment called ‘pradosha’. From this point of view, it would mean to herald the coming of a period of longer nights. Nataraja, the Lord of Dancers is the cosmic form of Lord Shiva (In Sanskrit, Nata means dance and raja means Lord). The ring of fire and light, which circumscribes the entire figure, identifies the field of the Lord’s cosmic dance encompassing the whole universe. The lotus pedestal on which the Lord rests, locates the universe in the heart or consciousness of each person.
In the big temple of Lord Arunachaleswara, the celebration of the Aani Thirumanjanam festival comprises of the following ceremonies: The deities of Lord Nataraja and his consort Goddess Shivakami are worshipped and brought outside of their altar in the main shrine, they are then borne in procession around the firs courtyard and then installed amidst great fanfare in another temporary altar inside the thousand-pillared of the temple. Here the deities are venerated, over a course of a week, with a series of elaborate abhishekams or sacred ablutions followed by karpoora aarathi (waving of camphor flames) and deepaaradhana (waving of lighted lamps).