Sabarimala
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About Sabarimala

The Sabarimala Temple is located atop the Mount Sabari - about 3000 feet above sea level is open to mankind, irrespective of caste, creed, religion, social status or nationality. People from all over India and from abroad make their annual pilgrimage to Sabarimala for a holy darshan of the lord. After 41 days of fasting and praying, he is ready to embark on the journey. He carries with him specially designed cloth bag called the “Irumudi” with two compartments in which coconuts filled with ghee are placed. The bag is divided into two by a knot at the middle which balances the weight of pooja items. An Ayyappa pilgrim is never called by his name and every pilgrim is a “Ayyappa Swamy”. One has to lead a disciplined, austere life of abstinence for 41 days to proceed to the temple. The requirements are that he should be a strict vegetarian, do not smoke or drink liquor, wear a necklace of rudraksha beads and wear only simple cotton clothes in black. He must not cut any hair and go barefoot. When they reach the foothills, they have to go barefoot and climb the hill to reach the 18 vertical steps to the temple for a darshan of the Lord.

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The shrine is open only during specific period every year, based on the Malayalam Calendar, and usually between November and January. The temple is also open on the first five days of every month of the Malayalam Calendar

In ancient times, the trek to the temple used to be extremely risky as the pilgrims had to trudge through dense forests filled with wild animals including leopards, bears and elephants. In those days, pilgrims would take leave from their family to go on the pilgrimage with no guarantee of returning home. Today, with modern transportation, the travel has become so much safer.

The legend of Sri Dharmasastha
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The asura princess Mahishi took on severe austerities to propitiate and evoke lord Brahma with the desire to avenge the death of her brother Mahishasura who was killed by goddess Durga. With lord Brahma appeared before her, she asked to be granted the boon of being able to ruling the universe and never be invulnerable except to a being not born from a Woman's womb. As such a being could not exist, she became all powerful, conquering and plundering the world.

When gods implored Shiva and Vishnu to save the world, Vishnu took manifest himself as Mohini, the enchantress and in the union with Shiva, was born the ‘Hari-Hara Sudhan’ (child of Vishnu and Shiva), Ayyappa is an embodiment of their combined powers, strength and celestial beauty. At the time of his being abandoned in the forest, Vishnu presented Ayyappa with a bell necklace. Which is why Ayyappa is also called ‘Manikantan’ (one who wears a bell on his neck). Ayyappa is also fondly called Shastha by Malayalees.

King Rajasekara, the descendant of Pandya dynasty who the kingdom of Pandalam was childless and unhappy. Devotees of lord Shiva they prayed hard to the lord to grant them a progeny. One day, when King Rajasekara was returning from hunting, he hears the cry of a baby and finds the divine baby on the banks of River Pampa.

When the king was in a dilemma as to the nature of the child, a sage appears and tells him to take the child to be his own and care for him. The Sage told him that when the child reaches 12 years of age, the King will realize the true divine nature of the child.

The child was welcomed by all citizens of the kingdom and the queen was delighted to finally have a child of her own. But the Diwan of the kingdom, who was plotting to overthrow the King and become the next heir, grew restless. Manikandan grow up learning martial arts and sastras. He does miracles like blessing his guru’s dumb son with the power of speech as Guru Dakshina. Meanwhile, the queen gave birth to a child who was named RajaRajan. When the King declared Manikandan as the next king, the Diwan approached the queen and told her that her own son will be robbed of the throne which rightfully belongs to him. He tells the queen to use the pretext of a severe headache and stomach pain to utilize the physician who then declares that only tigresses’ milk could save the queen. Manikandan volunteers to go to the forest and bring back tigresses’ milk. The Diwan and the queen expected that Manikandan would die in the forest.

Manikandan, on his way to the forest was accompanied by the ‘Panchabuthas’ of Lord Shiva. Manikandan learns of the atrocities of Mahishi and proceeds to fight and kill her. Following which he proceeds to find tigress milk. Lord Shiva and the devas turn themselves into tigers and tigresses and accompanies Manikandan back to the Kingdom. Manikandan rides on the tigers as he approaches Pandhala. Thus the divine identity of the lord was revealed. The king, queen and others fall at his feet and ask his forgiveness. Manikandan forgives everyone and takes their leave. The King implores the Lord to allow him to build a temple in his honor and asks him to locate a suitable place. Lord Ayyappa fires an arrow which falls on the top of the Sabari Hill and then disappears. The temple is built by the king in consultation with Saint Agasthya.

Special incidents every pilgrim season
  • Mandalapooja and the Makaravilakku are the two main special events every pilgrim season.
  • The Jewel Casket of Ayyappan is carried on the head from the ancestral residence of the royal family of Panthalam to the Shrine.
  • Kottayam - Pmapa (via Manimala) - 116 Kms
  • A Garuda follows this procession, hovering about in the sky and circles the temple three times and disappears once the ornaments are worn on the Lord.
  • On Makara sankranthi day, a Star appears in the sky following which the Makara Jyoti can be sighted on the hilltop.