Friday, January 14, 2011


Erumeli is a place which has earned fame in Kerala because of Sabarimala Pilgrimage.People who uses the traditional custom and passage go to Sabarimala from Erumeli.They conduct the 'Pettah Thullal' and then visit
the temple there  and  famous Vavar Mosque before proceeding to Sabarimala.Some people who find it difficult to walk and
cross Karimala Hill and reach Pampa Basin after Pettah Thullal and worship at Erumeli temple and mosque catch a bus or use their own vehicle to reach pampa from Erumeli..Eventhough millions of people perform Pettah thullal  two  eminent groups one from Ambalapuzha and other from Alangattu reserve special attention traditionally.They perform their Pettah Thullal three days prior to Makara Vilakku.Ambalapuzha group perform their pettah thullal in the forenoon and Alangattu group in the afternoon.
This year they had their Pettah thullal - day on 11th Jan 2011, which was only three days back.Several thousands of devotees were gathered at  Erumeli on that day and large number of spectators were  also present.As a custom the auspicious moment to start ambalapuzha group's Pettah thullal is on sighting of a Kite bird in sky above them and for the Alangattu group, they have to witness a bright star in the sky during afternoon.Thousands of devotees who were painted their body and face with colours and some people holding flowers, leaves and bushes were eagerly looking up at  the sky.Exactly at 12 Noon there appeared a Kite bird in the sky which flew at a low altitude and flew hovering above the Ambalapuzha group  circling three times and  went  away.On the sight of the bird joyous clutter aroused from millions of peoples throats and it paved way to the motto and sacred mantra 'Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa' which filled the ambience.Then all of them gladly started dancing to the rytham of drums which is known as pettah thullal.This dance is done to commemorate slain of a Demoness 'Mahishi' by Lord Ayyappa and saved the celestial Devas and humans from distress.In other words we can say that it denotes the victory of God over Evil.After pettah thullal they do their worship at Erumeli temple and Vavar Mosque adjacent to it.The Mosque authorities greet the Hindu devotees heartily and help them to perform their worship.Such a religious Hindu Muslim harmony is very rare.
In the after noon Alangattu group witnessed a bright star in the sky as their symbol to proceed for their dance  as usual.All these devotees use traditional path by which they have to cross a hill 'Karimala' which is more difficult to trek than Sabarimala  and reach Pampa basin and then to climb Sabarimala hill.Devotees are supposed to trek bare footed along the jungle path which is steep and narrow filled with thorns and stones.The surrounding forest  is the dwelling place of all kinds of wild animals and poisonous snakes except lion.
Makara Vilakku is the most important festival day at Sabarimala Temple.This year's 'Makara Vilakku' festival is being  celebrated today {14th Jan 2011) which is also known as Makara Sankranti.The traditional special ornaments to adorn the Deity will reach as a procession at around 6'O clock in the evening and 'Aarati' will be done at 6.44 p.m. A special Pooja  known as 'Samkrama Pooja' will also be performed at the time of Aarati.
The oil lamp Aarati pooja and Samkrama pooja time coincides after a time span of fifty years is a speciality of this year.When the ornament box procession starts from Pandalam and when the procession reaches Sabarimala also, on both occasions the Kite bird comes and hover three times above  in the sky. This  is a splendid sight and the atheists even could not explain this phenomenon of Kite bird  happening every year without any fail.One may wonder what is the connection of Kite and Sabarimala temple.Hindus believe that the kite represents the presence of Lord Maha Vishnu.It is famous that Ayyappa is the son of 'Mohini' and Lord Siva; but Mohini was an enchantress form of Lord Vishnu.
Sabarimala sree Dharma Sastha Temple{Swamy Ayyappa Temple} is characteristically different from any other temple in the world.It is situated in Pathanamthitta District of kerala on the Western Ghats amidst dense forest atop Sabarimala Hill which is also known as Neelimala Hill.While most of the temples in Kerala are open to Hindus only Sabarimala Temple is open to all people .Anybody from any religion,caste colour and creed are welcome at Sabarimala temple for worship.Females in the age group of 10 and 50 are not allowed to enter the temple and not even allowed to trek the Sabarimala Hill as a tradition..
This temple is open only for ten days a month but will be open for two consecutive months from approximately November 15th to Jan 20th.This period is known as Mandala-Makara vilakku festival period during which millions of devotees visit this temple from all over India and abroad.
The devotees are supposed to practice severe observances for 41 days prior to their visit of this temple.They are supposed to live ascetically during those days remembering God always.They have to keep away from women,eat only vegetarian food,bath twice daily,speak truth only and involve  in good deeds, no shaving and hair cut, no smoking and drinking etc.By observing these practices the devotee's body and mind becomes pure.At Sabarimala temple all are equal before God.Here no discrimination is allowed and any devotee is considered as Lord Ayyappa itself.'Aham Brahmasmi' and 'Thathwamacy' are  the motto here which means
God is not different and that God is in ourselves.The devotees has to carry a cloth bag with two compartments known as Irumudi which has to be carried on their head which contains pooja materials.It may sound all these are difficulties  but the number of devotees visiting this temple is increasing every year.Today on this auspicious Makara Vilakku day there is practically not an inch vacant space on top of Sabarimala Hill and nearby areas and also at Pampa basin.All are waiting to witness the lucent Star which appears around 6.45P.M. on the lucid eastern horizon, the star  which was not there yesterday.This star is considered as the Aarati of Celestial beings to Lord Ayyappa.At the same time a sacred flame appears at Ponnambalamedu  Hill.
To say Ayyappa story  in brief Lord Ayyappa was the adopted son of Pandya King Rajasekhar of Pandalam Kingdom.Ayyappa is belived to be the son of Siva and Vishnu and the human form of Lord Sastha.Ayyappa was exceptionally good at martial arts and archery and he defeated an Arabic Invader 'Vavar' who became his friend and ally.Ayyappa also suppressed a gang of robbers who were camping  on Sabarimala Hill and used to plunderPandalam and nearby Kingdoms.The gang leader 'Udayan' was killed.The traditional path used by devotees today  from Erumeli was the same that Ayyappa selected to go to Sabarimala  to  suppress the gang of robbers.Later when King  planned to make him crown prince Queen,with the aid of Prime Minister and Palace Physician had a collusion against him.Queen acted severe headache and Doctor prescribed tigress milk as medicine.Ayyappa set about for that medicine and on the way he killed the Demoness Mahishi.All the celestial beings{Devas} and humans were over joyed on that occasion and they danced and played.The Pettah thullal at Erumeli is done as a token of gratitude to suppress the evil.The Devas transformed themselves as tigers and tigresses and Ayyappa returned to Palace riding on a tiger followed by so many tigers.The queen and Minister begged for mercy and compassionate Ayyappa told everybody that he had fulfilled his aim as a human by Killing Mahishi and he would be there at Sabarimal temple for the welfare of the universe.He converted himself to a dazzling light and entered the Deity of Sastha at Sabarimala thereby proving that Sastha and Ayyappa are one and the same.The king of Pandalam constucted the temple and pilgrimage to Sabarimala was started.
By understanding that several miracles are happening at Sabarimala and that lord Ayyappa grants genuine needs of his devotees, people in millions visit this temple annually.Many impious people have changed their mind are now  turned as  devotees of Lord Ayyappa.
Tail Piece

I have seen thrice dumb people speak who were in the pilgrimage groups of Sabarimal  temple.The first instance was there at Chengannur Bus Station when a young boy spoke,the second instance was there at Chengannur Temple when a young girl in the pilgrimage group started to speak and the third instance was at Sabarimala temple premises where a matured man spoke.All those were deaf and dumb and Lord Ayyappa cured them completely.


rashmy said...

wonderfully written :)

Arun said...

Swamiay saranam ayyappa- Everything starts with you and ends with u. no words.. to express YOU.