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Witness The Power Of Lord Ayyappa In The Sabarimala Temple

Sabarimala temple in Kerala

The Sabarimala Temple is located 3000 feet above sea level on a hilltop. It is inside the Periyar tiger reserve of the Pathanamthitta district in Kerala. This temple is one of a kind, as it is open to people of all religions. Annually, 17 million to 50 million devotees visit the temple to worship Lord Ayyappa.

Sabarimala temple is popular and most revered among the sastha temples. Despite the harsh environmental factors, hordes of devoted followers climb the hilltop to pay homage to the deity. The Sabarimala temple opening and closing dates are available on its website. The temple is open only on the days of the Mandala Pooja, Mahavishnu Sankranti. Likewise, it is open during the first 5 days of the Malayalam month. Earlier, the temple used to restricts women between the ages of 10 to 50.

Sabarimala Temple in Kerala
The entrance of the Sabarimala Temple

The History of Sabarimala Temple

Around 5 sastha temples are present in the country today and Sabarimala is one of them. Sabarimala temple history is one of the oldest ones in ancient south Indian history. The prince of the Pandalam dynasty meditated at this temple. Subsequently, he become one with the divine as an avatar of Ayyappan. Manimandapam is the site where he meditated and attained divinity .

Vanaprastha is the deity in the temple. His posture is that of a yogi with the lit Makaravilakku.

For about 3 centuries the temple was unreachable. It was only in the 12th century, the prince Manikandan of the Pandalam dynasty rediscovered the path to Sabarimala with several followers. According to legends, he led a pack of tigers with Vavar, a Muslim warrior he had defeated, to his palace and disappeared into the Sabarimala temple later. The temple was renovated.

The Pandalam kingdom once belonged to the prince Manikandan. Travancore annexed this kingdom in 1821. The year 1912 saw the establishment of the idol in the temple.

The Worship at Sabarimala Temple

The worship at the temple remains a standard for centuries now. Firstly, it starts with the prasadam of the temple, which is appam and aravana payasam. Later comes the Harivarasanam prayer, composed by Kambangudi Kulathur Srinivasa Iyer in Sanskrit, played before closing the temple.

Meanwhile, a symbolic ritual that remains a custom through all the years is the pouring of the sacred ghee brought by pilgrims on the idol of the Lord Ayyappan. More importantly, it signifies the union of the Jeevatma with the Paramatma. You can also find the Sabarimala temple ghee abhishekam time at the Sabarimala temple website. Makar Sankranti, celebrating the anniversary of Sastha (Avatar of Lord Ayyappa) and welcoming Prince of Ayodhya Lord Rama, is celebrated in Sabarimala temple.

Inside the Sabarimala Temple
The Sabarimala Temple Shrine

Pilgrimage

The journey to the Sabarimala temple is an auspicious one where a Vratham of 41 days is taken prior to the pilgrimage. Also, the devotees start the penance by wearing a special Rudraksha or Tulsi beads.

The Rules followed

The devotee takes a vow that within the duration of 41 days the following strict rules will be observed.

  • Firstly, following a vegetarian diet
  • Celibacy
  • Teetotalism
  • Control their anger
  • No use of profanity
  • Allow the growth of their nails and hair
  • Being as helpful to others as possible
  • Bathe twice a day
  • Visit local temples regularly
  • Wear blue or black traditional clothing
  • Finally, worship everything around them as Lord Ayyappan
Devotees in the temple attire at Sabarimala Temple
The Devotees at the Sabarimala Temple

The journey to the Sabarimala Temple

After observing this penance for a period of 41 days, the devotees then travel to the Sabarimala temple. Moreover, Ayyapan himself took the path of over 61 kilometres. Therefore, devotees travel through the forest.

The journey is a harsh one, where one would have to cross a river to go from Erumely to Aludha, and then cross the Aludha mountain to reach Karivalam Thodu. Firstly, they have to cross Karimala, which ranges from the Ceriyanavattom, Valliyanavattom to the Pamba river. Then, they have to climb Neelimala to enter the Ganesh Bettam and Shree Rama Betta Padam. Then comes the holy journey of Thiruvabharana Ghoshayathra which is a grand procession of the divine jewellery.

Sabarimala temple inside the Periyar tiger reserve
Devotees walking towards the Sabarimala temple

Therefore, this is a highly developed route that has medical aid, emergency shops, and support to help climb the steep trail through the dense forest. Also, the elderly are lifted by men in bamboo chairs for a small sum of money.