FOUNDING TRUTHS OF vEDik LIFESTYLE ....prevails among 40 to 50 million devotees at a pilgrimage site every year in Kerala State of India....
Posted by Champaklal Dajibhai Mistry on January 17, 2011


Photo shows Hindu devotees praying at the Sabarimalaa temple during the Maravilakku festival marking the final of a two-month pilgrimage to the Lord Ayyappa temple in Kerala, south India on January 14, 2011....And then  around 8 p.m. local time a stampede killed 104 and injured more than 100 Most of the dead were from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, who were going back home through the forest after Makara Jyothi darshan, believed to be a celestial phenomenon, on the hill shrine of the Hindu God Ayyappan. The stampede was reportedly caused by a SUV which blocked the path, possibly after breaking down. When moved it may have overturned and caused people to stumble, triggering the stampede  ....The accident happened in Pulmedu, around 25 kilometers by road from the forest shrine in Pathanamthitta District, Kerala State, India.
Sabarimala stampede
A pilgrim who was injured after a stampede rests in a hospital at Kottayam
You can read the news story in the India Express newspaper by clicking on the hyperlink below the photo...
Kerala Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan announced a judicial inquiry into the stampede tragedy and also announced a grant of Indian Rupees (IR) 500,000 (approx. $11,000 USD) for families of each of the victims.[7] Prime minister of India Manmohan Singh condoled the deaths and announced a compensation of IR 100,000 (˜$2,200 USD) to the next of kin of the dead and IR 50,000 (˜$1,100 USD) for those injured.

and revered as AYYAPPAN  in Kerala, India; Right Photo: Ayyappan's Sabrimalaa Temple
Sabarimalaa  is a Hindu pilgrimage center located in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta District in Kerala State, India. Sabarimalaa temple is believed to be the place where the Hindu God shSH`th, named Ayyappan in Kerala, meditated after killing the powerful demoness, Mahishi. shSH`th was born of Shiv and Mohini who was an created by Vishnu after completion of kSHir saagr mNthan in Vishnu's 2nd kuARm avtaar. Ayyappa is known as "Hariharan Puthiran" because he is the son of Hari (Vishnu) and Haran (Shiva). His most common name is Manikanta because soon after his birth his parents tied a necklace with a bell (mani) around his neck (kantam).

Ayyappan Devotees must make the pilgrimage to Sabrimalaa at least once in their lifetime. This pilgrimage is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world with an estimated 45–50 million devotees visiting every year. The temple is open for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja (approximately November 15 to December 26), Makaravilakku (January 14- "Makara Sankranti") and Vishnu (April 14), and the first five days of each
Malayalam month.

Details of the 41 days of religious rites to be observed prior to the pilgrimage and the 45 km uphill walk to the temple, the method of worshipping at the temple and the benefits derived from the pilgrimage and worship is detailed on the next webpage of this news story.....

The photo shows thes significant ritual on the Sabarimalaa pilgrimage which involves pouring sacred ghee on the idol of Lord Ayyappa brought by pilgrims in their Pallikettu or Irumudi  which is a  two compartment bag made of handwoven cotton cloth used to bear the offerings for Sabarimala Temple by the devotees and carried on their heads.

  • The convergence of the various divergent faith and belief sects of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains at this pilgrimage site for a peaceful and harmonious co-existence to worship the Creator and Creation Sciences of their current lifestyle choices.... 
The above vEDik Truths are the fundamental of vEDik Science Knowledge with which all Life and Creations are created, functionally sustained and cyclically re-created...and are also   foundation of the vEDik lifestyle DHARm.....Please click on the hyper-linked words to fully understand these words to understand today's news story.....
Please click on the next line to read in detail the genesis of shSH`th, named Ayyappan in Kerala and His temple and devotion to Him and His devotees going back to at least 150 trillion years which is the age of the universe in which we exist and the cyclic re-creations which have been happening in time cycles of 4-yug and this will continue for a total of 311 trillion 40 billion years when our universe will be merged back in Creator bRH`m.....




named Ayyappan in Kerala....


 Outgoing melsanthi N.Vishnu Namboodiri, accompanied by the temple
tantri Kandararu Maheswararu and other priests, opening the Lord
Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala on Sunday. Photo: Leju Kamal

TheHinduCom Photo: Leju Kamal

Worshipping of Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala



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Swami Ayyappan
Affiliation Deva
Abode Sabarimala
Mantra Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa
Weapon Bow and Arrow
Mount Tiger










Ayyappan,  is a Hindu deity. Lord Ayyappan is worshiped in a number of shrines across India; at Kulathupuzha, Kerala he is worshiped as a child; at Achenkovil in conjunction with his consorts, Pushkala and Poorna; and at Sabarimala as an ascetic - a celibate meditating in solitude for the benefit of all mankind. The name "Ayyappan" is used as a respectful form of address in Malayalam, and the famous mantra Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa can be directly translated as Give me shelter, Lord Ayyappa! He is considered to be born out of the union between Mohini (an avatar of Vishnu), and Shiva.

The most famous Ayyappa shrine in India is the one at Sabarimala with over 50 million devotees visiting it every year, making it the second largest pilgrimage in the world.




Ayyappa is known as "Hariharan Puthiran" because he is the son of Hari (Vishnu) and Haran (Shiva). His most common name is Manikanta because soon after his birth his parents tied a necklace with a bell (mani) around his neck (kantam).

[edit] Background

The asura princess Mahishi was burning up with anger at the trick the gods had pulled on her brother, the asura king Mahishasura. As Mahishasura was blessed with invulnerability to all men, the gods had sent goddess Durga, to fight and kill him. Thus, Mahishi began performing a fearsome set of austerities, and pleased the creator god Brahma. He granted her the boon of ruling the universe and being invulnerable except to a being that had not been born from a Woman's womb. Since such a person did not exist, she thought she was safe and began conquering and plundering the world.

The gods implored Shiva and Vishnu to save them from this catastrophe. Vishnu found a possible solution to the problem. When Vishnu had taken on the Kurma Avatar, he also had to manifest himself as Mohini, the enchantress, to save the nectar of immortality (ambrosia or amrit) from the demons who were not willing to share it with the gods. If he became Mohini again, then the female Mohini and the male Shiva could have the divine child who would combine their powers and beat Mahishi.

Some versions give a slightly more detailed version of the union of Shiva with Vishnu. One version tells that the asura Bhasmasura had so pleased Lord Shiva with his austerities that Shiva gave him a boon of anything he wished. So Bhasmasura asked for the ability to burn to ashes anything which he placed his hand over. No sooner had Shiva granted this, than Bhasmasura ran after the god, threatening to turn him to ashes.

Shiva called to Lord Vishnu for help. He hid himself in a peepal tree as Bhasmasura ran here and there searching for the god. Vishnu became aware of the events, and decided that he would take the female form Mohini, "the Enchanting", and try to trump the asura's powers. When Bhasmasura saw Vishnu in this form, he was bewitched by her beauty. He earnestly tried to court her. So Vishnu instructed Bhasmasura to hold his hand over his head, and vow fidelity. With this act, Bhasmasura was reduced to ashes.

Vishnu found Shiva and explained the whole affair to him. Shiva asked if he too could see Vishnu in this female form. When Vishnu appeared thus, Shiva was overcome with passion, and united with her. The two gods thus became "Harihara Murthi", that is a composite form of Shiva and Vishnu as one god.

From this union, Lord Ayyappan was born. He combined in himself the powers of Vishnu and Shiva, and is a visible embodiment of their essential identity. Lord Vishnu gifted the new-born deity with a little bejeweled bell necklace, so this god is called Manikanthan Swamy. He is also called Shastha or Shasthappan by most South Indian communities.

In most Tamil versions of the story, the legend ends with the birth of the god, and with his passage around the region. But in Kerala, the story continues with Ayyappan's adoption by the Pandalam Raja, and the subsequent encounter with Mahisi.

[edit] Victory

Manikandan entered the forest to fulfill his divine duty, to rid the world of the demoness Mahishi. Manikantan killed her and released a beautiful woman who had been cursed to become Mahishi. The young woman asked Ayyappan for his hand in marriage, but he declined, being a celibate. However, he promised that she would be visited by pilgrims and would be housed next to his temple, and if the number of new pilgrims visiting him stopped, then he would marry her. Hence she is now worshiped as Maalikapurathamma. Another version of the story tells that Maalikapurathamma was a young girl in Cheerappanchira family where Ayyappan was trained for Kalari (martial arts).

On the death of Mahishi, Indra - the king of the gods, who was displaced and banished by Mahishi, led several tigers for the disposal of Ayyappan.

Days later, Manikantan entered the palace precincts riding a fierce tigress, followed by a pack of her cubs. The schemers were frightened into confessing their plot. They were convinced of his divine origins, and prayed to him to be with them for their own salvation and for the safety of the kingdom. Immediately Manikantan disappeared. The king would not eat anything if Manikantan did not come back. Then Manikantan gave a vision (Darshan) to the king.

Filled with emotions of happiness, grief, fear, wonder, 'Bhakti' (devotion to God) and self-surrender, the king prayed for the mercy and blessings of Manikantan. He repented he could not fully visualize the truth of the divine powers of the Lord and requested Him to forgive him for behaving as if He were his son only. The Lord lovingly embraced the King, who prayed to bless him by freeing him from birth and rebirth and grant Moksha (salvation). He told the King that he was destined to return. The king implored Lord Manikantan to allow him to build a temple and dedicate it to him and the Lord assented.

Manikantan then enlightened the King about how he could attain Moksha. The Lord shot an arrow that fell at the top of Sabarimala and told the King that he must construct a temple at Sabarimala, north of the holy river Pampa and install His deity there. Ayyappan also explained how the Sabarimala pilgrimage shall be undertaken, emphasizing the importance of Penance vratham and what the devotees can attain by His 'darshan'.

But before the departure of the Lord, the King secured a promise from the Lord that on thai Pongal on January 14, every year, (celebrated as "Makara Jyothi" all his personal jewellery (usually kept at the Palace) will adorn His image at Sabarimala. The Royal Garuda flies ahead, and guides the pilgrims throughout their journey. This Garuda was the sole and absolute signal, even to the Temple authorities at Sabarimala to get ready for the adorning of the jewels. After the statue is adorned, there is an Aarti (offering by burning Camphor). The miracle is that just after the Aarti, the Jyothi appears on the east side of the Temple above the Hills of Kanthamalai.

But then the Lord consoled the King saying that the devotees who held him and his descendants in 'Bhakti' shall be devoted to Him as well. Manikantan then blessed the King and all others assembled there, and vanished. The King duly constructed the temple at Sabarimala, dedicated to him. The deity for installation was prepared by Parasurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and was installed by himself.

[edit] Prasadam

Appam and Aravana (Payasam made of rice, ghee and jaggery) are the prasadams of the Lord.[citation needed] The Raja of Pandalam admitted Ayyappa to a famous Kalari (a gymnasium where the traditional martial arts of Kalaripayattu are taught) at Cheerappanchira in Cherthala in Alappuzha district. The young daughter, Leela, of Kalari Panicker fell in love with Ayyappa. Ayyappa was so involved in his studies that he didn't notice the girl's infatuation. It's also believed that she later became Maalikapurathamma, who was dejected when Lord Ayyappa refused her marriage proposal, after offering her a seat in Saram kuthi near Sabarimala Devasthanam.[citation needed]

Soon the girl started bringing him food to capture his attention. Time passed by and the girl reached puberty. Her family, following Hindu tradition, prepared special cuisines to celebrate the occasion. One mandatory item on the menu is Rthumathikanji (porridge made using rice and five times the usual quantity of jaggery). On that day she took this porridge to Ayyappa, who was practising payattu in the Kalari. He liked it very much and requested the girl to bring only the porridge everyday. It is believed that the practice of offering Aravana as prasadam to the God was born from this incident.[citation needed]

[edit] Legend

Lord Ayyappa is the presiding deity of Sabarimala temple. There are many popular stories associated with Him among the devotees. The stories differ, but there are certain common elements:

  • Ayyappa lived in the Pandalam Palace as the son / savior of the King.
  • He had super-human or divine knowledge, wisdom, and courage and loved the King and his people.
  • He protected the King and the kingdom from the attacks of enemies.
  • At the end of His life in Pandalam, He vanished into the forests and is ever since worshiped at the Sabarimala temple.

The most popular and widely accepted story tells that Lord Ayyappa had His human sojourn as the son of the Raja of Pandalam. At that time, Raja Rajasekhara ruled the kingdom of Pandalam. During one of his hunting expeditions, the Raja was puzzled to hear the wails of a child on the banks of the river Pampa, and was surprised to find a resplendent infant there. The beautiful baby with radiant face wore a bead ('mani') around his neck. The King, though pious, charitable, just, and God-fearing, had no children. He accepted the child as God's gracious response to his fervent prayer for an heir to his throne. Manikantan grew into a boy well versed in academic lore and martial arts. Meanwhile the Rani gave birth to a son. The King regarded Manikantan as his elder son. He decided to crown him as the Yuvaraja. The King's corrupt Minister had had a deep dislike for Manikantan, and made the innocent Queen believe that ill would befall her if Manikantan was crowned Yuvaraja and that the kingdom actually belonged to her son.

They conspired to get rid of Manikantan by hook or crook. They bribed the royal physician into becoming an accomplice of theirs. The Rani pretended to be afflicted with severe pain in the stomach, and the physician prescribed the milk of a tigress as the only cure. The King knew that none could be deputed for a mission that was so patently suicidal. However, the youthful and valiant Manikantan stepped forth and volunteered to fetch the milk. Despite the worried protestations of his foster-father, he set out for the fearful forests.

Days later, Manikantan entered the palace precincts riding a fierce tigress and followed by a pack of its cubs. The schemers were frightened into confessing their nefarious plot. They and others now knew that Manikantan was no ordinary being. They were convinced of His divine origins, and prayed to Him to be with them for their own salvation and for the safety of the kingdom. However, Manikantan was now determined to leave the place.

Filled with happiness, grief, fear, wonder and 'bhakthi' (devotion to God) and self-surrender, the king prayed for the mercy and blessings of Manikantan. He repented he could not fully visualize the truth of the divine powers of the Lord and repeatedly requested Him to forgive him for behaving as if He were only his son. The Lord lovingly embraced the King who continued to pray: " Lord, kindly bless me by freeing me from my egos and the worldly life of birth and rebirth and grant me ' moksha’ (salvation). Kindly continue to be the saviour of my family and stay eternally in my kingdom.” Manikantan then enlightened the King on the path of attainment of 'moksha'. These words of the Lord are contained in ‘Bhuthanathageetha'. To the King who is by now mentally cleansed and completely immersed in 'bhakthi', Lord Ayyappa said: "I am to free you from all worldly sorrows & worries and to grant you 'moksha'. All those who are and would be born in your family shall have my blessings unfailingly. I am always accessible to 'bhakthi' and only 'bhakthi." The Lord told the King that he could construct a temple at Sabarimala, north of the holy river Pampa and install His deity there. Ayyappa also explained how the Sabarimala pilgrimage shall be undertaken, emphasizing the importance of 'vrutham' and what the devotees can attain by His 'darshan'.

The Lord further consoled the King saying that the devotees who held him and his descendants in 'bhakthi' shall happen to be devoted to Him as well. Manikantan then blessed the King and all others assembled there, and vanished. The King duly constructed the temple at Sabarimala, dedicated to Him.

There are various tales connected with Lord Ayyappa: the discovery of the child at Pampa, Manikantan's youthful days in the Pandalam palace, bestowing the power of hearing and speaking upon the deaf and dumb son of His teacher as Guru-dakshina, His friendship with Vavar, bringing the tigress's milk, accomplishing His divinely destined mission of annihilation of the demoness Mahishi, eliminating the forest-thug Udayanan, bestowing moksha on Sabari, blessing His foster-father with moksha and so on. Legend also goes to say that Manikantan was the incarnation of Lord Dharma Sastha. Raja Rajasekhara was in his previous birth a rich and pious 'brahmin ' by name Vijayan who was a very strong believer and devotee of Lord Dharma Sastha.

A collection of legends called Ithihyamala, first published in 1904, gives a slightly different version. In it, the Raja of Madurai finds Ayyappan, as a young man well versed in archery, in a forest. The story follows the same pattern as above except that the Raja recognises him as an Avatar or incarnation of Shastha. This story explains why members of the Pandalam Royal Family even today do not stand directly in front of the sanctum sanctorum at Sabarimalai. This version puts Ayyappan as a Senapathi, or Captain, of the Pandyan army whose popularity and influence with the King was disliked by locals.

[edit] Pilgrimage

The Pandala Raja constructed a small temple, 18 steps above the ground as instructed by the lord himself.[citation needed] Each of these eighteen holy steps represents a desire one must conquer in life. The 18 steps and the temple have in recent times been coated in gold. The original vigraham was a wooden idol, and was inaugurated by Parashurama (incarnation of Vishnu).[citation needed]

The common cry heard during the pilgrimages to his shrine is "Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa!" ("Oh Swami, we take refuge in you").

The Pilgrimage to Sabarimala begins from the 1st of Vrichikam, a Malayalam month which begins in mid-November. The most important day for Ayyappan is Makarasankranti Day, which is the 1st of Makara, which falls between January 14–16. Devotees come from all parts of India to Sabarimala for a glimpse of Lord Ayyappan, having undertaken 41 days of Vratham (austerities).

As the jewels are placed on the statue inside the temple, the devotees outside chant "Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa". The entire hillside reverberates with the chant "Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa" as the devotees witness this Darshan, as the Devas and celestial Rishis arrive at Sabarimala to participate in birthday celebrations of Ayyappan effulgence. The devotees then climb the 18 holy gold steps to arrive at the sanidhanam where they get a glimpse of the statue, Manikanta Shri Dharmasastha, adorned with jewels.

[edit] Offerings

lrumudi is the only travelling kit which a pilgrim carries on his head during the pilgrimage. Only those who observe fasting for 41 days are allowed to carry it. Without the Irumudi one is not allowed to step onto the holy 18 steps at the Sannidhanam.

This bag is in two compartments - the Munmudi (the front part) and the Pinmudi (the back part) & the opening at centre. The front portion is reserved for keeping all the puja articles and offerings to the deity while the rear part is meant to hold the pilgrims personal requirements for the journey.

Front portion contains Mudra bags, consisting of 2 - 3 in numbers - one for the GheeCoconut and the other two for the remaining offerings. Items for Vazhipadu (offering) at the Sannidhanam that is kept in the front compartment of the Irumudi are as under:

Coconut filled with ghee for Abhishekam (bathing the idol of the Lord)+Coconut (vidalai thengai) 2 to 4 nos. Beetel leaves Beetel Nut Coins for offering Jaggery (achuvellam) Cashew Raisins Dry ginger Poha (thin & thick variety) Cardamoms Dates Honey Avil ( beaten rice) Kadhi Chakkar Dried turmeric tubers Turmeric powder Blouse piece Kumkum Vibhooti Sandal paste Sambarani Camphor Agarbathi (Incense stick) Rosewater Lemon Rice and Dal for offering.

Preperation for the offering to the Lord:

+ Coconut for ghee Abhishekam : Well before the Kettunira time, select a medium size coconut. Clean and polish the outer shell using a polishing paper. With a pointed instrument, open one eye of the coconut and empty the coconut water. Close it with a cork of correct size. The coconut is now in readiness for the Kettunira.

  • Coconut (Vidalai Thengai) one each to be broken at Erumeli, Sharam Kutti and two for Padinettampadi (the sacred 18 steps - once while climbing up for Shasta Darshan with the Irumudi and 2nd while returning after the worship
  1. Part of the jaggery, cashew, raisin, cardamom, honey and dates can be used to make Panchamrutam for the Neivedya; part of the jaggery, dry ginger and cardamom can be used for preparing 'Panagam' as Neivedya

Items for use of the pilgrim from the day of commencement of the journey after Kettunira till the return is kept in the back compartment or the Pin Mudi, which are as under : Some snacks which one may require now and then during the trip and other raw materials for food items to be prepared during the journey. And pulses and rice needed for cooking can be included in Pinmudi

Reference Link:

[edit] The Austerities

Devotees observe traditional austerities (vruthams) before their pilgrimage to sabarimala. Austerities normally start from the first day of the Malayalam month Vrishchikam. Devotees initiate the vrutham by wearing a Thulasi or a Rudraksha mala. After this ceremony, the pilgrims are addressed as ayyapan until their completion of the pilgrimage.

During the period of vrutham, devotees are expected to undergo practices of simple living, and absolute cleanliness. The mind and body are to be kept impeccably pure and absolute celibacy is practised. Total abstinence from all vices like alcohol, tobacco and non-vegetarian food is stipulated. Personal adornments, hair cutting, shaving, are also taboo. The devotee is expected wear black/blue/saffron clothes, and pray daily in the mornings and evenings after bathing. The prayer ritual may be performed by going to any temple or in one's own pooja room. Those devotees who are desirous of worshipping Lord Ayyappa on 'Makara Vilakku' day may continue their vrutham till that day. The vrutham continues till the pilgrim returns from his pilgrimage to Sabarimala and removes his `mala' after breaking a coconut and offering prayers.

The life of the man can be improved and re-energized by performing Tapas or austerity. Tapas may be performed in body, speech and mind as per 'Gita'. When man applies himself to these three components, he changes for the better.

[edit] The Guru

The role of the Guru is significant in the Ayyappa cult. The Guruswamy is usually an elderly person who has undertaken the pilgrimage to Sabarimala not less than eighteen times and has travelled by the traditional long route, and had darshan of Makara Jothi. The devotees treat the Guruswamy as Ayyappan himself. It is important that pilgrims gain knowledge from the Guru on all the aspect of the Pilgrimage. One should serve the Guru physically, mentally and verbally.

The pilgrims should give the due respect and reverence which the Guru deserves. All instructions of the Guru should be carried out without fail. The Guru will enlighten the Shishyas about the austerities to be followed. He will teach them the slokas, and ways to perform pooja and bhajans. He shall prepare them for the pilgrimage mentally and physically and lead the pilgrims safely and comfortably to Sabarimala.

See also



External links



( Photo by Ramesh Avadhani @ ReligioinInfo)

 The specially summoned musicians from Kerala who chants "Swamiye Ayyappa" and the bedecked elephant

Sabarimala: Pathanamthitta Sabarimala Photos 04



 Devotees observe the homa, the ritual by sacred fire to purify the venue.

Anointing Ayyappa's image with panch amrutham, a fruit salad prepared with sliced banana during the abhisheka-bathing

Pilgrims splash colored powders on one another, a symbol of surrendering of their egos to Ayyappa.

Female Relatives of the pilgrims enjoying the feast on banana leaves with tasty-kosumbri (soaked green gram tossed with diced cucumber), cabbage curry, chick pea curry, vegetable pilaf, sliced onion in curds, white rice, sambar, and two sweets-mysore pak and rice cooked in jaggery.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
—  Pilgrimage town  —
Location of Sabarimala
in Kerala and India
Coordinates 9.4375°N 77.0805°E? / ?9.4375°N 77.0805°E? / 9.4375; 77.0805Coordinates: 9.4375°N 77.0805°E? / ?9.4375°N 77.0805°E? / 9.4375; 77.0805
Country  India
State Kerala
District(s) Pathanamthitta District
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)


468 metres (1,535 ft)


Sabarimala  is a Hindu pilgrimage center located in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta District in Kerala. Sabarimala is believed to be the place where the Hindu God Ayyappan meditated after killing the powerful demoness, Mahishi. Ayyappan's temple is situated here amidst 18 hills. The temple is situated on a hilltop at an altitude of 468 m above mean sea level, and is surrounded by mountains and dense forests. Temples exist in each of the hills surrounding Sabarimala. While functional and intact temples exist at many places in the surrounding areas like Nilackal, Kalaketi, and Karimala, remnants of old temples survive to this day on remaining hills.

Sabarimala is linked to Hindu pilgrimage; Ayyappan Devotees must go at least once in their lifetime and it is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world with an estimated 45–50 million devotees visiting every year. [1] [2] Women between the ages of 10 and 50 are not allowed to enter the temple, since the story attributed to Ayyappa prohibits the entry of the women in the menstrual age group. This is because Ayyappan is a Bramachari (Celibate). The temple is open for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja (approximately November 15 to December 26), Makaravilakku (January 14- "Makara Sankranti") and Vishu (April 14), and the first five days of each Malayalam month.



[edit] The pilgrimage

A sign-board that indicates the direction to Sabarimala. The multilingual board is written in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and English (in that order, from top to bottom)
Crowd management of pilgrims
Crowd of pilgrims

The devotees are expected to follow a vratham (41-day penance) prior to the pilgrimage. This begins with wearing of a special Mala (a garland made of Rudraksha or Tulasi beads). In general from then they are to refrain from meat, fish, alcohol, tobacco, sex, using foul words, hair-cuts and shaving. They are expected to bath twice and visit the local temples regularly and only wear plain black, blue or saffron coloured traditional clothing. The visit to Sabarimala is thought for settling the shani-dosha to make the planet give better life and lifespan. This is according to astrological principles of controlling shani-dosha.

Hundreds of devotees still follow the traditional mountainous forest path (approximately 45 km) from Erumely, believed to be taken by Ayyappa himself. The part starts from Erumely to Azhutha river, then crosses the Azhutha mountain to reach Kariyilam thodu. Now comes the sacred Karimala crossing, from there to Cheriyanavattom, Valiyanavattom and finally Pamba River. Aranmula kottaram is one of the halt place of holy journey 'thiruvabharana khosayatra'. But many people use vehicular traffic which can go till the Holy Pamba River by an alternate road. Thereafter, all the pilgrims have to follow a mountainous forest trekking path approximately four kilometers up a steep hill (Neeli Mala) to Sabarimala. This path, now developed, with shops and medical aid by the sides, used to be a mere trail through dense forest.

[edit] Travancore Devaswom Board

The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) has insured the Ayyappa's shrine for a value of Rs 30 crore ($7 million) and also introduced a free-of-cost accident insurance project for pilgrims visiting the temple. The pilgrims' insurance scheme offered up to Rs 1 lakh to the devotees suffering injuries or death at a stretch of about 18 km from Nilakkal to uphill Sannidhanam where the temple is located. An estimated 5 crore (50 million) pilgrims visits the temple every year. During the main season from November to January it is estimated that Sabarimala contributes at least 150 crore rupees to the economy of Kerala[citation needed] .

[edit] Prasadams

The prasadam at Sabarimala temple is Aravana payasam and Appam. These are prepared by using rice, ghee, sugar etc. The rice needed to prepare prasadam at Sabarimala is supplied by Chettikulangara Devi Temple, the second largest temple under Travancore devaswom board situated at Mavelikkara.

[edit] Harivarasanam

Harivarasanam[3] is recited before closing the temple door at night. Harivarasanam song, which is sung today at Sabarimala as the Lullaby at night (Urakkupattu) was composed by Sri Kambakkudi Kulathur Srinivasa Iyer. It is said that Srinivasa Iyer used to recite the composition, after the Athazha Puja, standing in front of the shrine of Ayyappa in the main temple. With the efforts of Swami Vimochanananda, it came to be accepted as the lullaby by the Thantri and melshanthi. The composition has 352 letters, 108 words in 32 lines (8 stanzas).[4]

Though there have been many versions of this song sung by many renowned vocalists, the temple plays the rendition by K. J. Yesudas, which is in the 'Madhyamavati' raga of Indian Karnatic music.

[edit] Neyyabhishekam

This significant ritual involves pouring sacred ghee brought by pilgrims in their Pallikettu or Irumudi (A two compartment bag made of handwoven cotton cloth used to bear the offerings for Sabarimala Temple by the devotees and carried on their heads)on the idol of Lord Ayyappa. It symbolically means the merging of Jeevatma with the Paramatma.While a Saffron coloured Irumudi is used by a pilgrim on his first journey(Kanni Ayyappan) to Sabarimala, others use black or Navy Blue coloured Irumudi.

[edit] Aham Brahmasmi and Tattvamasi

The important message given at the temple is the ultimate knowledge that you are God, Tat Tvam Asi in Sanskrit meaning "That is you". Due to this pilgrims call each other Swami. Kantararu Maheshwararu of Thazhamon family is the Thantri (Head Priest) of Sabarimala.

Tat Tvam Asi, meaning "That Thou Art" is the message that is given out by the Lord. It means, in short, you are part of the Universal Soul (in Sanskrit "Paramatma") which is the quintessence of Advaita (Mayavada) philosophy. It also means for reaching Paramatma or Universal Soul.

[edit] Illumination and Power

In this remote hill shrine the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is shouldering the task of providing sufficient illumination in base camps, trekking paths and the Sannidhanam, the shrine spot. KSEB installs and maintains around 15000 electric lamps of various types here. Power is brought here through Kochu Pampa and Thriveni Substations. Through uninterrupted supply and well maintained lights KSEB could maintain good reputation in the recent years.

[edit] Historicity of the Ayyappa Temple

The Pandalam Royal Family has its roots in Tamil Nadu. The members of the Pandalam Royal Family are descendants of the Pandya dynasty of Madurai. The Pandya Kings fled to today’s Kerala in two groups, after losing the battle against Malik Kafur, the General of the then Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khilji. One group settled down in Punjar (Kottayam Dist) and the other in Pandalam in 1202 AD. The then ruler of Venad helped them establish the Kingdom of Pandalam. The Kingdom of Pandalam extended to over 1,000 square miles. The royal family of Pandalam belongs to the 'Bhargava Gothra' while other Kshatriya families in Kerala belong to the 'Viswamithra Gothra'. Secularism was one of the prime principles of Pandalam dynasty and they helped the other religious followers to build a mosque at Kadakkad and a church at Kudassanad. It is also believed that those who settled down in Pandalam had sympathies toward the Buddhist beliefs[citation needed] .

There is no clear evidence as to when did the pilgrimage to Sabarimala begin. After the installation of the temple, it was mostly unreachable for about three centuries. One of the kings in the later generation rediscovered the traditional paths to reach Sabarimala. He had many followers with him, including the descendants of the Vavar family. They refreshed their resources at Erumely and this marked the beginning of the famous Petta Thullal at Erumely. They laid down their arms at the place today known as Saramkuthy. Those who are on their maiden visits to Sabarimala thrust arrows at this place. The temple was then renovated. In 1821 AD, the kingdom of Pandalam was added to Travancore. 48 major temples including the Sabarimala temple were also added to Travancore. The idol was erected in 1910[citation needed] . The temple conflagrated in 1971 and underwent a major revamp.

[edit] The history behind the worshipping methods

The customs of the pilgrims to Sabarimala are based on five worshipping methods; those of Shaivites, Shaktists, Vaishnavites, Buddhists and Jainists. At first, there were three sections of devotees – the devotees of Shakti who used meat, liquor and drugs to worship their deity, the devotees of Vishnu who followed strict penance and continence, and the devotees of Shiva who partly followed these two methods[citation needed]. It was then that the Buddhists and Jainists entered, spreading the concepts of Ahimsa. Another name of Ayyappa is Sastha which means Buddha[citation needed] . This is a prime example of the reach of the Buddhist beliefs to this part of the world. All these can be seen merged into the beliefs of pilgrims to Sabarimala. The chain the pilgrims wear comes from the Rudraksha chain of the Shaivites. The strict fasting, penance and continence is taken out of the beliefs of the Vaishnavites. Ahimsa is taken from the Jainists. The constant and repeated utterance of prayers reminds one of the Buddhists. The offering of tobacco to Kaduthaswamy can be considered to be taken from the Shaktists.

[edit] Sabarimala stampede

On Friday 14 January 2011, a human stampede occurred just outside the pilgrimage, after a vehicle hit some pedestrians. Around 100 people are reported dead, with roughly 100 more injured. The accident happened in Pulmedu, around 25 kilometers by road from the forest shrine in Pathanamthitta District.

See also

External links

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