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Sabarimala: A Complete Guide

Sabarimala Sri Dharma Sanstha Temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is the most famous and prominent among all the Sanstha temples in Kerala.

The temple is situated on top of a hill called Sabarimala (about 3000 feet above sea level) in the Pathanamthitta district, which is unique. The temple is open to people of all religions. There is a place near the temple; To the east of the sannidhanam (abode of Lord Ayyappa), there is a temple dedicated to Vavar (a close friend of Lord Ayyappa) called Vavru Nada, a symbol of religious harmony. Another unique aspect of this temple is that it is not open throughout the year. It is open for worship only on the days of Mandalpuja, Makaravilakku, Vishu, and during the first day of every Malayalam month.

Pilgrims are said to observe celibacy for 41 days before going to Sabarimala. Pilgrims go through the traditional forest routes as well from Pamba which is less physically challenging to reach the temple.

Lord Ayyappa- Birth and History

Members of the Pandya dynasty, driven out by Thirumala Nayakar, the ruler of the erstwhile Pandya kingdom spread over Madurai, Thirunelveli and Ramanathapuram, lived in places such as Valliyur, Tenkasi, Shengotta, Achankovil and Sivagiri. They had also established their supremacy in parts of Travancore, and some of them belonged to the Chempazhanattu Kovil in Sivagiri, who had been given the right to rule the country of Pandalam by the Raja of Travancore about eight hundred years ago. King Rajasekhara, the foster father of Lord Ayyappa, belonged to this dynasty.

Rajashekhar, a just and untimely king, was highly respected by his subjects. Under him, the region was witnessing a golden age. But the king had a misery – he was childless and thus had no heir who would be the heir to his throne. Both the helpless king and his queen prayed relentlessly to Lord Shiva for a child.

Around the same time, a demon named Mahishasura performed severe penance (penance) and as a result, Lord Brahma was forced to fulfill his wish that no one on earth could destroy him. Enthused by Brahma’s boon, Mahishasura began the systematic destruction of people and crushed tribes and communities. Terrified and afraid of its wrath, people fled to distant lands. Realizing that only a supernatural force could destroy Mahishasura, the gods appealed to Goddess Durga, who killed him in a bloody battle.

To avenge her slain brother, Mahishasura’s sister Mahishi received a boon from Lord Brahma that no one could kill her except the children of Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Haran). In course of time, Mahishi went to Devaloka and started harassing the deities, who in turn asked Lord Vishnu to intervene. As it was a boon that no one could kill Mahishi except the son of Lord Shiva and Vishnu, Lord Vishnu assumed the female personality of Mohini, who helped the gods to drive away from the nectar from the demons; It was decided that the male child born from the union of Mohini and Lord Shiva would be placed in the care of Rajasekhara of Pandalam, a childless devotee of Lord Shiva.

On one of his hunting trips in the forests near the Pampa River, when the king was contemplating the surrounding natural beauty and the waterfalls on the banks of the river Rajasekhar, he heard the scream of an infant from the forest. Amazed, he followed the voices and came upon a beautiful baby, who was kicking his legs and arms. The king stood there, surprised – he longed to take the child home to his palace.

When King Rajasekhara saw the divine child, a hermit appeared from somewhere and instructed him to take the infant to his palace. At the same time the beggar assured him that the child would ease the sufferings of his offspring and that when the boy would turn twelve, Rajashekhar would come to know of his divinity. Since the child was wearing a gold chain, the sadhu instructed the king to name him ‘Manikandan’ – the one with a gold neck.

Happy, Rajasekhara took Manikandan home and told everything to his queen. Both of them felt that they were blessed by Lord Shiva himself. Except for the Diwan, who had entertained the hopes of becoming king after Rajasekhar, the royal couple was saddened by the joy.

As a child, Manikandan was very intelligent and precocious. He excelled in martial arts and scriptures and astonished his master with his brilliance and supernatural brilliance. Peace and prosperity reigned in Pandalam. Eventually, Ayyappan’s master concluded that the boy was not an ordinary mortal but a divine being. After completing his studies, Manikandan went to his teacher to give Guru Dakshina and took his blessings in return.

As he approached his spiritual master for blessings, the guru explained to Manikandan what he had already guessed about himself, that he was a divine force destined for supernatural glory. Then the Guru requested him to provide vision and speech to his son who was blind and dumb. Manikandan placed his hand on the guru’s son and the boy immediately regained sight and speech. Requesting that this miracle not be revealed to anyone, Manikandan returned to the royal quarters.

Meanwhile, the queen gave birth to a male child who was named Raja Rajan. Realizing that these miraculous turns of events were somehow connected with Manikandan, Rajasekhara decided to make him the king; He clearly considered Lord Ayyappan as his eldest son. Everyone became sad except the king’s dewan. This shrewd minister, secretly harboring princely ambitions, hated Manikandan and conspired manifold, including food poisoning, to destroy the divine incarnation.

Manikandan had a narrow escape, yet there was a wound on his body that no one could heal. In the end, Lord Shiva himself, disguised as a doctor, cured the young boy.

Their plans were thwarted, with the Diwan telling the queen that it was highly inappropriate for Manikandan to succeed Rajasekhara, as his own son was alive. Since the Arthashastra justifies any misdeed with a noble cause, it instigated it to pretend illness; He assured the queen that he would get his doctor to announce that she could be cured only with the milk of the tigress. Manikandan will be forced to go to the forest where he will be hunted by wild animals, or even if he returns home without completing the task, Rajasekhar’s love for her will be the same as before.

Blinded by her devotion to her son, the queen vowed to help the Diwan and pretended that she was suffering from a terrible headache. The king became concerned and called his physicians who were unable to revive the seemingly ailing queen. Eventually, Dewan’s companion announced that she would recover from the disease only if the milk of a lactating tigress was provided. Rajashekhar announces that he will hand over half his kingdom to anyone who can heal the helpless queen.

The contingent of soldiers sent by Rajasekhar had the sole purpose of returning the milk empty-handed. Manikandan offered help, but the king did not heed her pleas to go into the forest, citing the boy’s tender age and impending coronation. Manikandan carelessly requested his father to do him a favor. Rajasekhar, the always condescending parent, immediately relented; Taking advantage of the opportunity, the boy pressurized her to take milk.

Manikandan stops Rajasekhara’s attempts to organize a band of brave men to accompany him into the forest; He reasoned that seeing the crowd of soldiers, the tigress would leave quietly. Reluctantly, Rajasekhara sent off his beloved son and gave him a stock of food and three-eyed coconuts in honor of Lord Shiva.

The Panchabuthas of Lord Shiva followed Manikandan closely as they entered the forest. But on the way, he saw the atrocities of the demon Mahishi in Devlok. Enraged by his sense of justice, Manikandan threw Mahishi down to earth; She fell on the banks of the Azutha River. Soon a bloody battle ensued and in the end, Manikandan mounted Mahishi’s chest and began a violent dance that resonated within the earth and Devaloka. Even the gods were afraid. Mahishi, realizing that the Supreme Soul was upon him, the son of Hari and Haran, followed him, bowed before the young boy, and died.

This dance was witnessed by Lord Shiva and Mahavishnu from a place called Kalakatti (It is said that Leela, the daughter of Kavalan, a karamban, with the face of Mahishi and freed herself from the curse and attained salvation by the grace of Sri Dharma Sanstha. who is described in the Sabarimala temple as Malikapurthu Amma, by whose name she has a temple there)

After his confrontation with Mahishi, Manikandan entered the forest for the tigress’s milk. He had visions of Lord Shiva who informed him that even though he had completed the divine plan, he still had a major task to accomplish. Manikandan was reminded of his grieving father and ailing mother; At the same time, he was assured of Lord Indra’s help in obtaining the much-prized tigress’s milk. Manikandan made his way to the royal palace of Lord Devendran disguised as a tiger; He was accompanied by a female deity as a tigress and a male deity as a tiger.

The people of Pandalam were frightened on seeing the boys and the tigers and started taking shelter in a hurry. Soon after, the sannyasi, who had materialized for the first time in front of Rajasekhara in the forest, reappeared when he heard the cries of a child, and Manikandan’s true identity was revealed to the astonished sovereign. As Manikandan approached the palace gate with the tigers, the king became silent and worried.

The boy descended from the tiger’s back and informed the king that he could obtain milk from the tigress and cure the queen of the mysterious disease. Unable to restrain himself anymore, Rajasekhara fell at the boy’s feet and begged for forgiveness, he finally saw through his queen’s pretense; As soon as Manikandan left for the forest, his illness was over. Manikandan turned twelve on the day he returned from the forest.

King Rajasekhara decided to punish his Diwan as the latter was responsible for his son’s exile in the forest. Although Manikandan advised restraint; He believed that everything was revealed according to divine order through the will of God. At the same time he reminded his father that having completed the task for which he had created himself, he would return to Devlok without fail.

Before his departure, the boy told the king that he, being pleased with the king’s unwavering faith and devotion, would grant whatever boon Rajashekhar had asked for. Immediately, King Rajasekhara told him that he wanted to build a temple in his memory and asked him to suggest a suitable location for the temple. Manikandan aimed an arrow which fell at a place called Sabari, where a sanyasini named Shabari observed Dhavam in the era of Sri Rama. Lord Manikandan asked the king to build a temple at that place and then he disappeared.

Later, Saint Agastya, acting on the advice of King Rajasekhara, laid the foundation stone of the temple at Sabarimala. Lord Manikandan insisted that he would only be pleased with those devotees who offered darshan after observing forty-one days of penance or fasting, which included strict abstinence from family desires and tastes; Devotees are expected to follow a lifestyle similar to that of a celibate, relentlessly contemplating the goodness of life. As they make their way up the steep slopes of Sabarimala, they adorn themselves with three-eyed coconuts and food items/infinite garlands in their heads, as the Lord did to take the milk of a tigress in the forest, and pampa Had a bath in the river. Shout out to Sharanam and climb the eighteen steps.

King Rajasekhara overtime completed the construction of the temple and the sacred eighteen steps leading to the temple complex. As the king contemplated the complex task of placing the idol of Dharmastha in the temple for darshan, he was reminded of the words of the Lord Himself – the Pampa river is a holy river like the Ganges, Sabarimala is as holy as Kashi – the Dharmastha sent Parasuraman, who revived the land of Kerala from the bottom of the sea to Sabarimala; It was he who carved and installed the figure of Lord Ayyappa on the day of Makar Sankranti.

Every year, lakhs of people visit Sabarimala, irrespective of caste or creed, with garlands and Irumudi, chanting mantras to Lord Ayyappa, bathing in the holy river Pampa, climbing eighteen steps, Lord Ayyappa, Hope to get a glimpse of the shrine.

Upadevadhas

Nagarajava: The deity of Nagarajava is placed near the Srikovil (sanctum) of Lord Ayyappa. Pilgrims, after having the darshan of Lord Ayyappa and Kannimoola Ganapathi, take their darshan and offer prasad to Nagarajava.

Vavarunda: Vavar (pronounced VA-var), also known as Vavaruswami, was a Muslim saint who became a devotee of Lord Ayyappa. There is a temple dedicated to Vavaruswami at Sabarimala, as well as Vavaruswamy’s mosque at Erumeli next to the Erumeli Sanstha temple. Vavaruswamy’s devotion to Ayyappan and the importance of the mosque at Erumeli during the Sabarimala pilgrimage season highlight the communal harmony in Kerala. Vavaruswamy’s devotion also highlights the relevance of Ayyappa devotion to members of all religions and the equality shown to all; Whether they are Muslims, Hindus or Christians.

Malikapuramathamma: Malikapurthamma is the most important sub-deity in Sabarimala. There are two beliefs on Malikapurthamma, that it is the demon who fought with Sri Ayyappan in the form of Mahishi. Once the demon was defeated, a beautiful woman emerged from the body and wished to be with Sri Ayyappa. Another belief is that the daughter of Sri Ayyappa’s guru became a sanyasini and wanted to live with Sri Ayyappa. According to the Tantric view, pilgrims have to worship Malikappuram as ‘Adiparashakti’.

The main offerings to Malikapputhamma are turmeric powder, (manjal podi), saffron powder, (kumkum podi), jhagri (sharakara), honey (then), banana (kadali pajam), and red silk.

Karuppu Swamy and Karuppai Amma: The temple of Karuppu Swamy is situated to the right of the Pathinattam Padi or the Eighteen Sacred Stairs. The temple of Karuppu Swamy also includes an idol of Karuppai Amma. They were both forest people who helped Lord Ayyappa in his divine mission and are believed to have divine power.

Valiya Kadutha Swamy: The small temple of Valiya Kadutha is situated on the left side of the sacred stairs. Valiya Kadutha is also an attendant of Lord Ayyappa.

Mel Ganapati: Mel Ganapati is near the Srikovil (sanctum sanctorum) of the prestige sannidhanam. Devotees offer part of the broken Ghee Coconut (Ne Thanga) to the Agni (Azhi) to Shri Ganapati. Ganapati Homam is the main offering

Pooja Timing at Sabarim

Special Pooja at Sabarimala

Neyyabhishekam:

Neyyabhishek is the most important offering to Lord Ayyappa. A coconut filled with ghee is used to perform this ritual. The ritual begins at 4 am and continues till the high puja (1 pm). After having darshan of Lord Ayyappa and the sub-sanctuaries, groups of Ayyappa pilgrims will form a viri (a sheet spread on the ground) under the guidance of Guru Swami (the senior-most pilgrim). They collect all the ghee-filled coconuts and arrange them on the viri.

After taking a bath in the bhasmakulam (pond behind the sannidhanam), the team leader, usually a Guru Swami will break all the coconuts filled with ghee and collect the ghee into a vessel to be offered to the Sri Kovil (sanctum sanctorum).

After performing Neyyabhishek, the priest will return a portion of ghee to the devotee. Ghee received from Sri Kovil is taken back as divine prasad. Devaswom Board has arranged for the facility of getting Adishishtam Neu for the devotees who do not bring coconut filled with ghee.

Ghee symbolizes the human soul and through the consecration of Ghee on Lord Ayyappa the soul merges into the divine. The soul is ghee and the Supreme Soul is Lord Ayyappa.

Once the ghee is removed from the coconut, the coconut symbolizes the jadam or dead body. This is the reason why the coconut is then offered in the huge azi or fireplace in front of the temple.

Padi Pooja:

Padi Puja is the worship of 18 sacred feet ‘Pathinattampadi’, which is conducted on select days after the flower bath of the idol named ‘Pushpabhiskeham’. The puja is conducted in the evening and is performed by the tantri in the presence of Melasanthi (priest). The hour-long ritual culminates with the Tantri performing ‘aarti’, decorating the sacred feet with flowers and silk cloths by lighting traditional lamps at each step.

Udayasthamana Pooja :

Udayasthamaya literally means from sunrise to sunset. Hence it means to worship from sunrise to sunset. Udayasthamana Puja is conducted from dawn to dusk (from Nirmalyam to Athaj Puja). Apart from the continual worship, special pujas are performed with Archana and Abhishekam to seek the blessings of the Lord (presiding deity) which enables the devotees to fulfill their wishes. Of the total 18 pujas, 15 are performed before noon, and 45 are kalasabhishek.

Sahasrakalasam :

Sahasra Kalasam is an offering to Hariharaputra (Sri Dharmashastra) to bless the happiness of mankind according to the Tantric Vedas and Agam Shastras. It is a noble endeavor to use all the holy souls in the form of incense, precious and semi-precious stones, seven seas and holy rivers in a sacred Kalasam (sacred vessel) of sacred gold, silver, copper. e.t.c.

Ulsavabali:

The rituals of Ulsav Bali begin with the sound of paani. Ulsava Bali is dedicated to Bhootaganam (associate of the Pitha deity) and the water is meant to invoke Bhootaganam. Then begins the sprinkling of cooked raw rice (ulsava bali thuval) by the temple tantri to cover the balikallu of Bhoothaganam around Nalambalam and Balikkalpura. When the sprinkling of cooked rice on the Sapta matrikal is completed, the presiding deity’s Thidambu is taken out of the sanctum so that the devotees can offer prayers. Ulsava Bali is held at the Lord Ayyappa temple as part of the annual festival.

Puspabhishekam :

Lord Ayyappa is showered with flowers at Pushpabhishek Sabarimala. The flowers and leaves used in the Pushpabhisheka ritual are tamara (lotus), jamanthi (chrysanthemum), arali, tulsi (basal), mulla (jasmine) and kuvalam (bilva leaves). A devotee who wishes to perform Pushpabhishek at Sabarimala will have to book in advance. The cost of performing Pushpabhishek is Rs.10,000/-.

Ashtabhishekam :

Ashtabhishekam is one of the important offerings to Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala.
The eight items used for Ashtabhishekam at Sabarimala are :

  • Vibhuti
  • Milk
  • Honey
  • Panchamrutam
  • Tender coconut water
  • Sandalwood or Chandanam
  • Rosewater or Panineer
  • Water

Kalabhabhishekam :

Kalabhabhisheka is a very important special puja that is usually performed to strengthen the Chaitanya of the deity. As part of Kalabhabhishekam, Kalabhakalas worship at Nalambalam in the presence of Tantri Melasanthi.

Kalabhakalasabhisheka, marking the conclusion of the ritual by applying sandalwood paste on the idol of Lord Ayyappa, is performed during high worship by the tantri after a procession around Sri Kovil carrying a golden urn containing sandalwood paste for Kalabhabhishek.

Laksharchana :

Archana means ‘to chant and glorify the divine name’. LAK stands for 100,000. Therefore, Laksharana is the name and practice of repeating in a group, the name of the Lord in the form of a mantra.

Later, the tantri, with the help of Melasanthi and some other priests, performs the rituals in the sannidhanam. The ‘Brahmakalasam’ of Laksharana is taken to the sanctum sanctorum for ‘abhisheka’ before ‘Uchapuja’.

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Rituals at Sabarimala

Malayadal: The pilgrimage to Sabarimala is about the test of the senses. Pilgrims are expected to lead a simple pious life known as ‘Vritham’ for the successful completion of the pilgrimage.

Ideally, ‘Vritham’ begins on the day when the pilgrim decorates a chain (garland in Malayalam) depicting his desire to perform penance. This ritual is known as ‘Malayadil’ in the local language. Devotees can wear a beaded chain with Sri Ayyappan’s locket. Once wearing the chain, the devotee has to lead a life free from worldly pleasures.

Misdemeanors such as smoking and drinking are also a strict no-no. The pilgrim is also required to lead a life of marital abstinence. Religious practices state that the rosary should be accepted after the prayer of the temple priest or Guru Swami – a person who has completed 18 pilgrimages to Sabarimala.

Alternatively, the rosary can also be worn in the prayer room/place of your home.

The garland can be taken off after the pilgrimage is complete.

Mandala Vritham: Mandala Vritham refers to a mandala or austerity measures by the followers and devotees of Lord Ayyappa for 41 days. The simple and pious life without any defects during the ‘Vritam’ period is said to be. Wearing the garland signifies the beginning of ‘Vritham’. Devotees consider wearing a garland on a Saturday or on the day of Uthram, which is considered auspicious. Utharam is the birth star of Sri Ayyappan.

The idea behind the 41-day ‘Vritham’ is to inculcate discipline and healthy practices and make it a habit. It is about building good habits through sustained efforts achieved through a combination of self-control and prayer. Black is the recommended color for clothing during the ‘Vrithum’ period as the color signifies separation from material things. It is forbidden to cut hair, shave facial hair and cut nails.

Kettunirakkal: This ritual is the preparation and packing of ‘Irumudi Kettu’ for the Sabarimala pilgrimage. It is prepared under the guidance of a Guru Swami, only those people who carry Irumudi Kettu on their head will be allowed to climb the 18 sacred steps in the temple, as they are considered to be the ones who follow penance and thus The type they are capable of climbing. holy step.

Other devotees have to take a different route to reach the front of the sanctum for worship. During Ketunira, after the initial prayer, a sacred offering of ghee (clarified cow’s butter) is filled inside a coconut whose fibrous covering is removed.

It is a symbolic act to drain the coconut water through a small hole at the top and fill it with ghee. It symbolizes taking out worldly attachments from the mind and filling it with spiritual aspirations. The coconut is called ‘theng’ in Malayalam and is now known as ney-thega, a coconut filled with ghee, an offering to Lord Ayyappa.

First, the front compartment of the bag will be filled with Ney-Thenga and other sacred offerings to Lord Ayyappa and the deities accompanying him. The front compartment is now closed with a string. The one filled in the front compartment is believed to be alive with spiritual power. Then some coconuts are filled in the second box which is broken at various holy places.

Petta Thulal: Petta Thulal, the ritual sacred dance to celebrate the victory of good over evil in the legend of Lord Ayyappa, who killed the demon princess Mahishi, marks the beginning of the final phase of the annual Sabarimala pilgrimage season. Traditionally, Petta Thullal is first performed by the Ambalappuzha team.

A team of over 1,000 devotees began the ritualistic dance after spotting the kite in the sky around noon from Kochambalam at Petta Junction. The team will dance at the Nainar Masjid across the road to pay tribute to Lord Ayyappa’s trusted lieutenant Vavar.

He will be formally welcomed by the leaders of the Erumeli Mahlu Jamaat Samiti, who will later accompany him to the Sri Dharma Sanstha Temple (Valiyambalam), about a kilometer away, where the Ambalapuzha team and Jamaat leaders will be welcomed by Travancore Devaswom Board officials.

The ceremonial dance by the Alangad team begins in the afternoon after seeing the stars in the daylight sky. After an overnight stay at Valiyambalam, both the teams will go to Pampa to participate in Pampa Sadya and later to the Makaravilaku festival at Sannidhanam.

Traditional Routes: There are several routes to reach Sabarimala which include Erumeli Marg, Vandiperiyar Marg, and Chalakayam Marg. The Erumeli route is considered the traditional route as it is believed that Ayyappan took this route to subdue Mahishi. It is also the toughest, requiring a trek of around 61 km through the jungle and mountainous tracks.

Devotees pass through several places before reaching Sabarimala via the Erumeli route. The journey begins with offering prayers at the Dharma Sanstha and Vavar Swami’s temples in Erumeli.

About 4 km from Erumeli is Perur Thodhu, a place where Ayyappa rested during his campaign. This place is also important as it marks the beginning of the ascent of Sabarimala. As a custom, pilgrims give alms to seek refuge in Ayyappa. The forest beyond Perur Thodu is known as ‘Pungavanam’ which means ‘Ayyappa’s Garden’.

Next on the traditional trail is Kalaketti, which is about 10 km from Perur Thodu. ‘Kala’ in Malayalam means bull and ‘ketty’ is tying. It is believed that Lord Shiva tied his bull here and saw Ayyappa killing Mahishi. Pilgrims worship here at the temple, burning camphor and plucking coconuts.

About 2 km from Kalaketty is the Azutha River, a tributary of the Pampa River. Pilgrims make a point to collect pebbles from the Azutha River before proceeding to the steep Azutha Hill. The steep mountainous terrain of 2 km is considered very difficult. , making into a cry and cry. Kallidumkunnu is situated on the summit of Azutha. On this step, pilgrims throw pebbles in memory of Mahishi’s act of knocking down the mortal remains.

root2: Inchiparakota marks the descent of the journey after successfully navigating the mountainous terrain. In Inchiparkota, there is a temple dedicated to the institution known as Kotyil Sanstha, where pilgrims pay their respects. The descent on the slippery path ends at Karimala Thoddu (canal), flanked by Azutha Hill on one side and Karimala Hill on the other.

Karimala is the breeding ground for elephants and pachyderms to visit the Karimala canal to drink water. Pilgrims set up campfires to protect themselves from the cold weather and animal attacks. Karimala is a hill with seven levels and the journey is done in stages. The 5 km climb is very difficult and the devotees chant ‘Swami Sharanam Ayyappa’ in this phase of the journey. The flat terrain at the top of the Karimala hill provides scope for relaxation. The ‘Nazikkinar’, located inside a well of this place, has fresh spring water, which quenches thirst and fatigue after a steep climb. Various deities including ‘Karimalanthan’, ‘Kochu Kadutha Swami’, and Bhagwati are worshiped at this place.

root 3: After a tiring 5 km descent covering places like Valiyanavattam and Cherianavattam, one reaches the Pampa River. The importance of Pampa in the Sabarimala pilgrimage also comes from the belief that Rajasekhara, the king of Pandalam, found the infant Ayyappa here. Considered as holy as the Ganges, worshipers believe that the water purifies a person from curses and evil. Sannidhanam (the place of the sanctum) is about 8 km from the Pampa river valley. Neelimala, Appachimedu, Sabaripedome, and Saramkuthi are some of the places on the way.

It is interesting to note that the ascent and descent of the journey teaches one to recognize that life is all about ups and downs, and one has to be brave enough to reach the summit!

Ulsavam: ‘Ulsavam’ is an annual festival held at the Sabarimala temple during the Malayalam month of ‘Meenam’ or the Tamil month of ‘Panguni’ (March–April). The temple remains open for a period of 10 days during Ullasavam.

The ‘Ulasavam’ begins with the hoisting of the temple flag ‘Kodiyattam’. During the following days, several special pujas are conducted including ‘Ulasavabali’ and ‘Shri Bhoot Bali’. The 9th day of the annual festival marks the ‘Palliveeta’, in which Sri Ayyappa goes on a ceremonial procession to the royal hunt at Saramkuthi. This is followed by a holy dip in the Sabarimala ‘Arattu’ or Pampa river.

The special puja concludes the annual ‘Ulasavam’ to mark the ‘Panguni Utthan’. ‘Utharam’ is the birth star of Sri Ayyappan.

How to Reach Sabarimala

By Rail:- Pilgrims can reach Kottayam & Chengannur by rail and from there by road to Pampa

By Air:- Pilgrims can reach Thiruvananthapuram or Kochi by air and from there by rail/road to Pampa.

By Road:- KSRTC has started bus services to Coimbatore, Palani, and Thenkasi from Pampa for the convenience of Sabarimala pilgrims. Besides, the Government of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been given permission to operate buses to Pampa. A chain service exists between Pampa and Nilackal base camps.

Read More About Temples in India

Frequently Asked Questions About Sabarimala

Q. Is Sabarimala open for darshan?

A – All persons wishing to visit the hill shrine of Sabarimala to have the darshan of Lord Ayyappa this month must either have an RT-PCR certificate or take both vaccine doses. Unlike other temples, Sabarimala does not open every day, rather it remains open for five days a month.

Q. Why is Sabarimala famous?

A – This temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, popularly known as Swami Ayyappan, is visited by lakhs of people every year and is the most famous and prominent of all the institution temples. Sabarimala is believed to be the place where Lord Ayyappa meditated after killing the mighty demon Mahishi.

Q. Do Muslims go to Sabarimala?

A – A Muslim, who is also a former soldier from Sringeri, has raised many eyebrows by making a pilgrimage to Sabarimala. A few days back, he developed a divine aspiration to make a pilgrimage to Sabarimala. Accordingly, he performed penance as per custom, staying in the ashram for five days.

Q. Why are women not allowed in Sabarimala?

A – A legend says that Lord Ayyappa does not receive menstruating women in the temple in honor of Malikaputhamma – a lady-demon who was defeated by Ayyappa after he proposed marriage to her. The Lord had put a condition that the day the devotees stopped seeing him at Sabarimala, he would marry her.

Q. Can we go to Sabarimala without Virtual Q?

A – Registration on Virtual Queue is mandatory if you want to go on Sabarimala pilgrimage and get access to Prasadam, Puja, Kanika, and Awaas. You must first sign up with a valid mobile number and email id or if you are already a member, you just need to log in.

Q. Can we go to Sabarimala without Irumudi?

A – You can also go to Sabarimalai without wearing a garland or carrying Irumudi Kettu. Without these two you will not be able to climb the holy 18 steps. There are no such restrictions in the virtual queue.

Q. Who built Sabarimala?

A – As per tradition Vishwakarma, Pandalam King Rajasekhara, (sculptor) is believed to be Parashurama

Q. What is the story of Ayyappa?

A – According to mythological and oral traditions, Lord Ayyappa was born from the union of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, when Lord Shiva was in the form of Mohini. Lord Vishnu took the form of Mohini during the churning of the ocean to destroy a deadly demon Bhasmasura and to obtain nectar (nectar) for the gods.

Q. Who is the avatar of Ayyappa?

A – Ayyappan (Sastha or Dharmastha or Manikandan) is a Hindu deity popular in South India, especially in the state of Kerala.

Q. Do Muslims worship Ayyappa?

A – He is the famous Muslim acquaintance of the Hindu deity Ayyappan. Vavaraswamy’s devotion to Ayyappan and the Islamic mosque’s important role in the Ayyappa pilgrimage highlight the communal harmony in Kerala.

Q. When was Vavar Mosque built?

A – The mosque is believed to have been built around 500 years ago, although there are no records to establish it. It apparently started as a thatched hut and was refurbished from time to time. Today’s grand concrete structure is the result of a previous renovation in 2001.

Q. Why are the feet of Lord Ayyappa tied?

A – He was seen sitting in the yoga posture mentioned above, which is a long-standing contact pose. The king of the pandal brought a gold belt and tied it around the feet of the Lord so that the Lord would feel comfortable in a sitting position and he would always remain in the temple to bless the devotees.

Q. Can we keep Ayyappa’s photo at home?

A – The idol of God should never be kept in a temple or house in such a way that its back side is not visible. Apart from this, such an idol or picture of God should not be kept in the temple, which is in a war posture, in which the form of God is in anger.

Q. Are women allowed in Sabarimala?

A – Sabarimala Temple is a temple of Shasta located in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala state, India. Traditionally, women of reproductive age were not allowed to worship there. A decision by the Kerala High Court provided a legal basis for this interpretation, and since 1991 Indian law forbade women from entering the temple.

Q. Which district is Sabarimala?

A – Pathanamthitta District

Q. Are there tigers in Sabarimala?

A – The hilltop in Kerala is located inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve, which is home to over 20 tigers and other wildlife including elephants.

Q. What is the significance of 18 steps in Sabarimala?

A – These represent the emotions: krodha (anger), kama (love), lobha (greed), moha (lust), asuya (jealousy), dhumbha (arrogance), madha (unhealthy competition) and malatsar (pride). It is believed that climbing stairs while chanting helps to control the pain-causing emotions in the world.

Q. Who destroyed Sabarimala in 1950?

A – In 1950, the Sabarimala temple was burnt to ashes by a fire and the Ayyappa idol was damaged. It was not possible for any Hindu group to commit the crime, a senior police officer said, adding that the act of setting the fire was deliberate. The circumstantial evidence points to the Christian community.

Important Links

  • sabarimala online booking (Link)
  • sabarimala virtual q (Link)

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