Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Temple is one of the mainly very old and well-known Sastha temples in the country. The temple situated in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta district in Kerala, Sabarimala Sri Dharmasastha Temple is one of the few Hindu temples in India that is release to all faiths. The temple of Sabarimala is one of the most isolated shrines in southern India yet it motionless draws three to four million pilgrims every year. Sabarimala Sri Dharmasastha Temple is the most renowned and well-known amongst all other Sastha Temples. It is supposed that “Parasurama Maharshi” who retrieved Kerala – Gods Own Country from the sea by throwing his axe, installed the god of Ayyappa at Sabarimala to love Lord Ayyappa.
The pilgrimage starting in the month of November and ends in January. The temple attracts pilgrims not only from the southern states of India, but also from other division of the country and out of the country. The shrine gets thronged with devotees particularly throughout the main pilgrim period from November to January. Mandala pooja (November16, 2009) and Makaravilakku (Jan.14th) are the two most important events of the pilgrim period. The temple stays closed for the duration of the rest of the year except for the first five days of each Malayalam month and during Vishu (April).
The certain customs are to be exactingly observed if one has to take on a pilgrimage to Sabarimala. A pilgrim attendance the Mandalapooja must monitor austerities for 41 days. Throughout this time, the pilgrim must go without himself from non vegetarian food and carnal pleasures. Pilgrims set out in groups under a leader, and every carry a cloth bundle called Irumudi kettu containing customary offerings. Unlike certain Hindu temples, Sabarimala temple has no limitations of caste or creed. The temple is release to males of all age groups and to women who have either conceded their fertility age and those before attainment the stage of teenage years. The easiest way is via Chalakkayam, by which one can arrive at the banks of the river Pamba by vehicle. Pamba is the chief hesitant spot on the way to Sabarimala. From here one has to trek 4 to 5 kms to attain the temple.
Harivaraasanam- The sanctum sanctorum closes with this song, each day.
” Harivaraasanam Viswamohanam
Thriyanam Prabhum Divyadesitham
The Major Festivals in Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Temple Kerala
The most important event at Sabarimala is the Makara Jyothi (usually on January 14th). Thiruvabharanam or the sacred jewels of the Lord (presented by the Pandalam king) arrives at Sabarimala in three boxes. On the arrival of the jewel boxes the whole mountain reverberates to the chanting of ‘Saranam Ayyappa’ by millions of devotees gathered there to watch the event.
The Thiruvabharanam box – still the private property of the Pandalam royal family, starts its journey two days before Makara Jyothi day from Pandalam. The person who carries the box dances in a peculiar trance. Thiruvabharanam travels through Valiakoikkal Sastha temple at Pandalam, Ayiroor Puthia Kavu Temple, Perunattil temple, Vlakkai, Nilaikkal Siva temple, Vellachimala, Pamba and Sabari Peedam before reaching at Sannidhanam around 6.00 PM on the Makara Jyothi day. Every year a Garuda hovers and flies above the Thiruvabharanam boxes as if to guard them.
On reaching the Sannidhanam the Melshanthi and Thandhri receive the sacred jewels amidst the thundering echoes of Sarana ghosham. The Thiruvabharanam box contains a diamond crown, golden bracelets, necklaces and a sword. The priests adorn the Lord with these and perform arathi.
At the similar moment a sparkling glow of astounding splendor appears in the northeastern side to the temple at the opposite mountain in a place called Kantamala (the home of devas and rishis). It is believed that this dazzling flame of light is the arathi performed by the rishis and devas. This occasion marks the conclusion of the pilgrimage to Sabarimala.
Makara Vilakku Festival:
After the jyothi, that night Malikappurathuamma, mounted on an elephant comes in a procession to the Patinettampadi (18 steps) and returns back to her abode. This is the beginning of the Makara Vilakku festival. This festival lasts for seven days. Many pilgrims stay back till this festival is over and Kuruthi pooja (offering of water mixed with chunnambu and turmeric powder to the forest deities) is performed. Even several who leave Sabarimala after witnessing the Jothi watch fasting till the Makara Villaku and Kuruthi pooja is complete at Sabarimala.
Onam Festival, Mandalapooja, Pankuni Uthram (Lord’s Birthday) and Vishu are the other festivals celebrated at Sabarimala with ceremony and magnificence.