The burning of the chokka panai in the open space in or around a temple as a symbolic ritual that reflects a similar act at Thiruvannamalai temple zone fora the Karthigai deepam celebrations draws many people to it.
On Sunday night, even as the skies grew dark and promised some showers, people gathered around the chokka-panai at Sri Kapali temple and at Sri Veleeswarar Temple closeby.
The chokka-panai is a large and tall mass of dry palm leaves and logs knitted together and massed in the open space.
At both temple zones, people stood and watched as priests lit a fire and the chokka-panai was ablaze in seconds. This was a symbolic act reflecting the giant flame that is lit atop the hill as part of the mahadeepam in Thiruvannamalai, which is the focus of the deepam celebrations in south India.
Earlier, many volunteers chose to place and light earthen oil lamps, some 10,000 of them on all the steps of the tank of Sri Kapali Temple ( second photos here). When these lamps were lit at dusk, they presented a wonderful live spectacle to all those who passed by on the mada streets.