TIRUVANNAMALAI, INDIA, November 28, 2012 (The Hindu): Hundreds of thousands of devotees witnessed the lighting of the Karthigai Maha Deepam on the Tiruvannamalai hill on Tuesday. The ten-day Karthigai Deepam festival, which began with hoisting of the flag at the Sri Arunachaleswarar temple on November 18, culminated with this ritual. Crowds had begun pour into the town from daybreak for performing girivalam or circumambulation of the holy hill. Setting the stage for the final event in the evening, the Barani Deepam was lit inside the sanctum of the temple in the early hours as thousands of devotees watched. At 6 p.m. the Deepa Nattars, who hail from the fishermen community, lit the Maha Deepam atop the hill. The Maha Deepam is a huge cauldron filled with three tons of ghee, with the wick made of several hundred meters of cotton cloth. As the huge flame became visible from the hill top, lamps were lit in the temple and across the temple town and surrounding villages.