Sabarimala Temple: Lord Ayyappa’s Adobe
Sabarimala Temple is the most popular temple in Kerala, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. Located on a hilltop named Sabari which is more than 3000 feet above sea level on the slope of the Western Ghats of Pathanamthitta district in Kerala, its a marvel how 100′s of years ago people had the means to built the temple so high in the mountains. Lord Ayyappa is also known as Sastha.
About Sabarimala & Rituals
Its believed that lord Ayyapa meditated here after killing the demoness Mahishi. This temple is unique in many aspects. The temple is open only from 1st of Vrichikam, a malayalam month (mid November) till end of the month Makaram (mid January), these are the days of mandala pooja and Makaravilakku,, then on Vishu day and first 6 days of every Malayalam month.
The devotees observe fasting for 41 days during this period before going to Sabarimala. The fasting is set off by wearing a Thulasi or Rudraksh mala (chain) with Lord Ayyappa’s pendent after praying in a temple or pooja room in the house. The temple is open to all irrespective of cast, creed, religion, rich or poor, literate or illiterates
Another uniqueness is that devotees are all equal for Lord Ayyapa and they all address each other as “Ayyappa” or “Swamy” and ladies addressed “malikapuram” instead of names. All devotees are draped in black or blue. Apart from the southern states Kerala, Andra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu devotees throng in from other parts of country and abroad.
Dielty of Vavar is placed very close to the temple, supposed to be Lord Ayyapa’s friend and a Sufi. This shows that here communal harmony and secularism is given more importance.
Important Notes: As for women and girls only kids and older women are allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple since Lord Ayyappa was a bramachari (unmarried). Also the trek up the hill is quite arduous and full of devotees, hence not recommended for a mere tourism.
Sabarimala Makaravilaku and Makara Jyothi
The most important day of Lord Ayyappa is on Makarasankranthi day (between Jan14th - 16th ) It is also called Makaravilakku. This year it was on 14th Jan. Makaravilakku festival’s significance is that Holy jewels( Thiruvabharam) of Lord Ayyappa is taken from Pandalam palace to the Sabarimala temple accompanied by devotees hailing Ayyappa Mantram. Sree Krishna Parunthu (holy Garuda – an eagle) is seen circling above with the procession. It is believed to be Lord Vishu as protector. The bird is not always seen, but when it reaches the sanctum sanctorum the bird circles few times as a respect to Lord Ayyappa and flies away.
On the Makaravilakku day, Lord Ayyappa’s is adorned with these sacred ornaments. When the doors are then opened for Deeparadhana & Darshan “Makara Jyothy” (like a star) will appear in the sky opposite Sabarimala, Lord Ayyapp’a birth star and Makara Vilakku is the fire lamp which is lit by authorized people in commemoration of the aarathi performed.
To reach the main shrine (atop the mountain) devotees pass eighteen steps. These steps are called Ponu Pathinettampady( the Holy eighteen steps). These steps are considered very sacred as there is the holy touch of Lord’s feel. Now these steps are covered with 5 metals(panchaloha) which are very sacred.
Getting to Sabarimalla
- The nearest town and railway station is Chengannur (12 km).
- The nearest railway station is Kottayam.
Swami Saranam Ayyapa Saranam!