|18 Steps||Thathvamasi||Sabari Peetam|
It is the main Prasadam given to the devotee after the darshan of the Lord. The prasadam is made of Rice, Ghee and Gur. Besides this prasadam appam made of rice is also given as Prasadam.
Azhutha is another river very much similar to Pamba. During a pilgrimage to Shabarimala the devotees also takes a dip in this river.
Guruswamy is the leader of the team going on a pilgrimage to Sabarimala. It is under his guidance that pujas like Kettunira is performed. To be a Guruswamy, one has to climb the 18 steps atleast 3 or 4 times. Everybody in the group has to obey the orders of the Guruswamy.
|KANNIAYYAPPAN & KANNIKETTU||Top||Home|
A swamy who for the first time takes the pilgrimage to Shabarimala is called Kanniayyappan. The offerings which he carries on his head during his first pilgrimage is Kannikettu.
Karimala is a steep hill of about 10-15 kilometers surrounded by forest on either side. During the pilgrimage a devotee has to climb this steep hill before climbing the 18 steps and get the darshan of Lord Ayyappa.
After undergoing the rigorous fast (vritham) for 41 days all the ayyappas meet at a temple where under the guidance of Guruswamy fills the Irumudi which contains the offerings for the Lord Ayyappa. During this puja the coconut are filled with ghee while chanting the various names of Lord Ayyappa. The family members of ayyappas going to sabarimala also comes to the temple to offer their blessings.
According to the mythology, Malikapuram or Malikapurathamma is the lady who had fallen in love with Prince Ayyappa and wanted to marry him. Ayyappa had promised her that he cannot marry her in this life and would marry her when no Kanniayyappan would come for the pilgrimmage.
I believe that certainly a time would come when no Kanniayyappan would go for the pilgrimage.
Mandalam is the season / period when generally people prepare to go for the pilgrimage i.e. Mid November to Mid January.
|MAKARA JYOTHI (A Miracle)||Top||Home|
This is really a miracle. As promised by Lord Ayyappa that he would come in the form of a Jyothi to bless his devotees, on the day of Makara Sankrati a divine Jyothi which is seen 3 times during intervals of 3-4 seconds.
Coconut is filled with Ghee as an offering to Lord Ayyappa. Once the darshan of Lord is obtained the coconuts are broken and all the ghee from the devotees are collected in a pot and is taken for Abhishekam (ghee is flown on the idol of Lord Ayyappa) of the Lord. The coconuts are later thrown to the Bhasmakalam. The ahses from these Bhasmakalam is taken as Vibhuti.
The holy river of South India like Ganga is the holy river in the North. All devotees have to take bath in this river before climbing the hills of Shabarimala. It is said that taking a dip in this river purifies you of all your sins and ailments.
During the pilgrimmage, every devotee has to visit the Mosque of Vavar. Vavar was Ayyappas childhood friend. Everybody smears colours on their face and body and dance to the beat of the drum and then reach the Sabarimala.
|18 STEPS : PATHINETTAMPADI||Top||Home|
Sage Parasurama, has a great
concern and special liking for the well being of the Keralites,
which is evident from the fact that the sage installed the idol
of Lord Ayyappa seated in the yogic pose "Veerasanam"
with "Chinmudra" by the right hand in the presence of
the great sage "Agasthya" at the Sabarimala at the
auspicious time on "Makara Sankranti Day" in the temple
constructed by Lord Ayyappa's foster father King Rajasekhara, the
King of Pandalam, with 18 sacred steps which represent the 18
hills of the Lord ("Poonkavanam"), which, in turn
represent the 18 Hill Devas for whom the Padipujas are offered.
They also represent 18 "Thathva Sopanams".
Sage Agasthya whose "thapobala" is so great that he could balance the weight of mother Earth by sitting at South when all the "muppathi mukkodi devas" went to Mount Kailash to participate in the divine union of Lord Shiva with His Shakti, Mother Parvathi, has in fact detailed the rites, rituals and pujas in the temple at Sabarimala as well as the austerities ("Vratham") to be observed by the devotees when they undertake their pilgrimmage to Sabarimala for the darshan of the Lord after trekking the "Poonkavanam" of the Lord and climbing the sacred 18 steps. Those who climb the sacred 18 steps with due observation of the "Vratham" will be absolved of all their sins.
Sage Parasurama also brought an Andhra Brahmin family and made them as Thantris at Sabarimala. The Thantris of Sabarimala Temple is inherited the 'Melsanthis' post is by selection on an yearly basis. The Thantri is the Authority with discretionary powers to regulate the rites and rituals as per the temple tradition. Most of the important pujas are performed by the Thantri himself, except the Usha Puja and Athazhapuja, which are performed by the Melsanthi.
When a devotee climbs the 18
sacred steps, he is greeted with the great saying in "Rig
Veda" "Thath Thvam Asi" (That Thou Art) which
reminds you that you are essentially that - the Supreme Reality.
Ayyappa worship reveals itself a well designed system which has
no place for narrow minded sectarian restrictions such as caste,
creed religion or nationality. It offers a set of practical
disciplines to activate the divine energies to reinforce life
with a deeper perception and broader outlook. The caste system
with its discriminative stance never had any place in the Ayyappa
Temple at Sabarimala. Vavar, a Muslim is worshipped as a
lieutanant of Lord Ayyappa and Muslim Preist belonging to Vavar
family still distributes sacred ash as "Prasadam" to
pilgrims in front of the Temple. In Alapuzha District, there is
also a Christian Church known as "Arthingal Church of
Veluthachan" associated with the Lord Ayyappa. The unique
feature of our Ayyappa Temple is that it is open to the people of
all faiths and many non-Hindus undertake pilgrimage to this
Temple. Ayyappa cult gives much importance to secularism and
communal harmony and has turned out to be a model for the whole
world. Another significant aspect of the pilgrimage is that all
the pilgrims, whether rich or poor, learned or illeterate,
holding position or not, master or servant, are equal before the
Lord and address each other as "Ayyappa and Swamy".
Only those pilgrims who have observed vratham and carry "Irumudikettu" ("Pallikettu") are allowed entry through the holy "Pathinettampadi". Women between age group of 10 and 50 are not permitted to undertake Sabarimala pilgrimage as Ayyappa will remain a celibate till no Kanniayyappan climbs the hills of Sabarimala.
This was the place where Shri Sabari of Sri Rama's era performed Tapas. It is said that Sabari met Sri Rama & Laxmana here and offered them some fruits to eat. The ayyppas worship here by breaking coconuts etc.
Half way between Sabari Peetam and Sannidanam is Saramkuthi. The Kanniswamy peirce their arrows here which they bought from Erumeli. At this place is a Banyan tree called the Sharam kuthi Aaal.
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