should one worship Ayyappa
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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".
Built on a plateau about 40 feet high, the Ayyappan temple commands a lofty view of the mountains and valleys all around. The ancient temple has been rebuilt after a fire in 1950, consisting of a sanctum sanctorum with a copper-plated roof and four golden finials at the top, two mandapams, the belikalpura which houses the altar, and the flag-staff. Replacing the earlier stone image of the deity is a beautiful idol of Ayyappa in panchaloha, an alloy of five metals, about one and a half feet tall.
There are several explanations regarding the significance of the Patinettampadi, but in all of them, the emphasis is on the number 18. One popular belief is that the first 5 steps signify the five indriyas or senses, the next 8 the ragas, the next 3 the gunas, followed by vidya and avidya. Crossing these would take the devotee closer to self-realisation.
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