Monday, January 24, 2011

MALIKAPURATHAMMA AND VAVAR SWAMY

The Mandala Makaravilakku Festival of Sabarimala  Temple of 2010-2011 was comparatively better this year with out much complaints from pilgrims.We have to admit that it was remarkably well organised in all aspects
including security and traffic control.When millions of tourists concentrate on a particular spot
from various states in India for two months; that also on an inhabited hilly forest region situated  more than 3 kms above sea level, probems can happen.We should not blame the authorities.It was all  well done  till the makara Sankanti Pooja and the well wishers of Sabarimala and the Organisersof the festival including Devaswom Board would have  felt relief that the festival was a grand success.When  around 10'O Clock at night on 14th Jan  news poured in that a mishap happened at Pulmed near Vandiperiyar in Idukki District in which several Pilgrims of Sabarimala died.. Everybody who were watching T.V.  was really shocked.
The next day on 15th Jan 2011 it was clarified that at   Pulmedu  a place which is approximately 8km from Sabarimala through the forest path this tragedy happened in which by  stampede 102 pilgrims lost their life.
The pulmedu which is also a forest region from where on the top of the hill which is grassy area and very suitable to view the Makara Jyothi more than 100,000 spectators were gathered.The event was  finished at 7.15P.M  and
everybody rushed to trek down the hill fast.The hilly passage was only 10' wide and unnecessary constriction was created which resulted in falling down of many devotees and stampede and altogether utter confusion and fuss and panic  was resulted.The exorbitant rush of pilgrims was expected at that place but nobody thought that such a mishap would happen..Earlier once on a makara Sankranti day a tragedy happened near Pampa basin  at a place known as hill top.But this year a record number of 102 Pilgrims were dead.The ex-gratia  amount declared to the victim's families would not reduce their pain and loss but what else can the government do in such a situation..
We all mourn  this incident and pray for the departed souls to rest in peace.
Now it has turned to be a matter of debate that whether the makara jyothi is real or fake.Nair Service Society
clearly stated that  apart from the Celestial Star the Sacred Flame which is witnessed at Ponnambalamedu is human madeThis was published in yesterday's news Papers..In this 21st centuary everybody can understand that it is artificial,but the splendent star which
appears on the eastern horizon above ponnambalamedu is a miracle and divine.Actually that star is the Makara jyothi  which is an Aarti of the Celestial beings to Lord Ayyappa.The tribals who lived on ponnambalamedu hill lighted Aarati at the ruins of a Sastha Temple which is existing  there which some beleives that  it is the  moolasthanam of Sabarimala temple.(Origin)Now no tribals are living there but the Aarati  may be lighted by  somebody else.
In this instance we have to think about some facts.No hype propaganda was given by any authority at any time that at Ponnambalamdu  a Celestial flame is being observed.Everybody knows very well that a star is viewed at noon  at the time of Alangattu group's pettah thullal and a Garuda Bird(Kite) comes at the time  of Ambalapuzha group's pettah thullal.The Garuda Bird accompanies the procession from Pandalam to Sabarimala as if it is  a  guard or  Protector for full three days is not a myth but a true fact.More over the appearance of the Lucent  Star above Ponnambalamedu every year on Sankranti day itself is a reality which is happening  through centuries.
On the Sankranti Day when the Ornament Boxes reaches Sabarimala Temple and Aarati is conducted inside the temple only very few people will get chance to witness the Aarati of ornaments adorned Ayyappa. But on that particular day the total number of devotees present at Sannidhanam(Sabarimala temple area) will be higher than any other day during that season.Everybody's wish is to witness the Deity fully adorned and to view the Aarati also..But all of them knows very well that it is impossible since the temple can accommodate a few people only.So at the time of Aarati in the temple the appearance of a bright Celestial Star which was not there on the previous day and also the flame
visible at ponnambalamedu thrills their heart and literally the devotees feel that they are witnessing the
Aarati inside the temple itself.They consider it as Deeparadhana(Worship using oil lamps and Camphor) inside the Ayyappa Temple and values like that.So if it is published that the flame seen at Ponnambalamedu is man made no devotee will be bothered about that or minimize the importance of Sabarimala Pilgrimage.
There are 18 steps in front of Sabarimala Temple which are 6'long and 18" wide.It is actually granite but later was covered by Pancha loha(a compound of five metals) and now covered by gold.The first 5 steps denotes 5 senses (relating to eyes,ears,nose,toungeand skin),next 8 steps denotes Ashta ragas(our Interests in life)The next three are of  three gunas(Tathwa,Rajatha and Thamoguna-These are all of much philosophical) and finally 2 are ignorance and knowledgeWe can realize God by crossing all these steps only is an inner meaning.Some says it denotes 18 puranas and some says it denotes 18 entities of 18 mountains surrounding Sabarimala.Devotees break a coconut before stepping on those sacred steps and entering the temple.We,
 on breakage of  that coconut breaks our pride itself.It is a symbolic act
On either side of the holy steps are abodes of Kadutha swamy and Karappu Swamy who were Officers
in  Lord Ayyappa's army.Vavar Swamy who was his friend and ally got an Abode opposite to his shrine itself.There is no Deity there but his sword
is still there by which it is evident that he was an eminent warrior.A descendant of his family will be present at Sabarimala temple to help devotees to perform reverence to Vavar Swamy.Green pepper and sandal wood paste  is mainly offered there.
On the left side of Ayyappa Shrine is Malikapurathamma Devi's Shrine.This goddess is considered as Durga Devi and pooja rituals are performed as according to that.But legends are that she was Mahishi, the Demoness whom Ayyappa killed.She became a demoness as a curse and when lord Ayyappa killed her she transformed in to her original beautiful entity and requested Ayyappa to marry her.To console her Ayyappa made
an agreement that he would marry her if no new Ayyappa Pilgrim come to Sabarimala in a Particular year.
(New Pilgrims are called Kanni Ayyappans and they carry a small wooden arrow with them  which they deposit at a spot known as Saramkuthy near the Ayyappa Temple as a custom and tradition)..Every year by seeing the thousands of arrows  heaped there any body can understand that there was a flow of Kanni ayyappans(New Pilgrims)
The second legend is that Pandalam Principality Prince Ayyappa stayed and learned martial arts and yoga at  a Kalari Center (Martial Arts
and Archery Training Center) which was at Cherthala in Alleppey District and the Guru, who was the Master of Martial Arts was  Kalari Panicker.He had a daughter by name Leela who was deeply interested and impressed about Ayyappa.She tried her level best to attract his attention and attain his love but Ayyappa sought eternal celibacy only.Ayyappa felt it bad to object her entreated request and the rest of the story is as stated earlier like he made a treaty that he would marry her if no  new pilgrim come to Sabarimala in a particular year.
Any how two days prior to Makara Sankranti Day her Sanctum will be beautifully decorated like a Bride's
residence.Devotees coming to Sabarimala on those days will bring Silk Sarees,Colourful Dresses,Make-up
materials including talcum powder,kumkum,eyeliner,muscara,perfumes sandal wood paste,rose water,Gold Ornaments in different varieties such as necklaces,
gold chains,bangles,ear rings,etc etc in plenty and some others will bring rice,vegetables,fruits,jaggery,provisions etc etc.The Deity will be beautifully adorned with best dresses  and ornaments and make up given like a real Bride.Her temple will  get  ready as if for a marriage ceremony to take place as according to Indian Style.More over on Makara Sankanti Day out of the three ornament boxes which arrives  from Pandalam Palace two are for Malikappuram Devi and only one to Lord Ayyappa.When she is adorned with that  traditional ornaments also practically she will be converted to marvelous Beauty Princess.At around 9 P.M she will be taken out  in a procession on an elephant to Ayyappa shrine near the 18  sacred steps.This ezhunellathu(procession) will be performed in a splendid manner.This is repeated on the next day also when some body in the group asks loudly Kanny Ayyappan Vannittundo?(Which means any new pil grim came that season).From Ayyappa Temple some body will answer go and check at Saramkuthi.She will go back  to her abode on  that day but  the following day a spectacular procession will be held to Saramkuthi with full galore of colourful items including coloured umbrellas and  with music;drum beats dance and so on.When they reach Saramkuthy she understands that thousands of new pilgrims came that season also  by  a glance of the heap of arrows lying there.Her procession will return with  no pageantry, with folded umbrellas and no drum beats and music,completely gloomy with no lights also. For spectators also this will  feel as a  sorrowful scene.The same scenes and procession as above will be repeated for another two more days.In her agony and out of countenance mood Malikapurathamma returns to her abode hoping for the best next year when she expects no new comers would come to Sabarimala and she might  be able to marry Ayyappa.We need not investigate these stories and these cults but Conformists believes that God has no objection for us to practice these cults and believes they even enjoys it even though some of them are silly
.The supreme priests of Sabarimala temple(Thantri) belongs to Thazhaman Madhom, one of the eminent Thantri family in Kerala which is situated at Chengannur.
The love and affection towards  Lord Ayyappa by devotees is immense.For example let us see this sarana mantra or slogan"Swarna Simhasanathil irunnu velli simhasanathil thrikkaloonni Kasi Rammeswaram Pandi Malayalam Adakki Vazhum Nammude Akhilanda Kodi Brahmanda Nayakan Anatha rakshakan Asritha valsalan Villali Veeran Veera Mani Kandan Hari Hara Suthan Aananda Chithan Ayyan Ayyappa Swami Njangalkkennum Saranamayi Varenam Ponnu Swamiye Saranam- Saranam Ayyappa Saranam Ayyappa Saranam Ayyappa Swamiye Saranam"(To be brief the meaning of this slogan is that the Creator,owner and ruler of this Universe Who is Swamy Ayyappan who is the son of Lord Siva and Vishnu Kindly Bless and Help us and be our saviour always.He is praised indicating all our love and affection)
From all major Bus Depots in Kerala Buses are available to Pampa and Erumeli also during the season.Special trains are also arranged to Kerala during the season from other states.CHENGANNUR is the
nearest railway station to Sabarimala and Pampa and large number of buses ply between Pampa and Chengannur.Buses to Pampa will be available from  Chengannur Railway Station and Bus Station during the season.From Pathanamthitta,Kottayam,Kottarakkara,Trivandrum and Ernakulam also enough buses are avaiable.
Tail Piece



Nobody can put off or fade out Lord Ayyappa and  the Glorious faith of Jyothi which has kindled in the hearts of several million devotees..Let  the sacred flame which is seen at Ponnambalamedu be  man made or celestial,it makes no difference for a real devotee of Ayyappa Swamy.The number of devotees  increases every year and the authorities has to accept new practical ideas perspicaciously for a safe pilgrimage.Round the year pilgrimage may  also be considered.More forest areas may  need to be acquired for further developments.

Friday, January 14, 2011

SABARIMALA AYYAPPA TEMPLE


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.

Monday, January 3, 2011

PATHANAMRHITTA DISTRICT - PART-2

Chempakaraman Velayudhan Thampi(1765-1809) was the Chief Minister of His Highness  Maharaja Balarama Varma of Travancore state of Kerala.He was  popularly known as Velu Thampi Dalawa.(Dalawa means Chief Minister of the King).He was the  chief minister from 1801 to 1809.He started his career as the Tehsildar of Mavelikkara Taluk and earned the reputation as a good administrator.During that period the Dalawa of the King was a corrupted man by name Jayanthan Nampoothiri.When he was accused of a murder case there was protest to remove him from his Office.Velu Thampi who had tremendous potential as a crowd puller , gathered so many people and marched to the palace demanding the resign of the  Dalawa.Velu Thampi was victorious in this effort and the King appointed Velu Thampi as the new Chief minister.Velu Thampi was vested with more administrative  power as a token of his efficiency and public support.Soon the state was on the path of prosperity under his leadership and guidance.Corruption was not tolerated and the punishment given was very severe.
This was the period when East India Company could establish their empire in India..There was no unity among the princely local rulers and jealousy and rivalry also existed among them which helped the British to defeat them one by one and establish their empire.There was Maratha wars,Mysore wars lead by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, Carnatic wars Sikh War lead lead by Raja Ranjith Singh and many more which they could suppress easily.Nobody remembered the proverb 'Unity is Strength'.
Velu Thampi was not tolerant to accept the British Supremacy and was not  willing  to pay them the high amount of Royalty as demanded by the East India Company.The state of Travancore was friendly with the State of Cochin in Kerala.During that period the ruler of Cochin handed over the administrative charges to his Chief Minister  Govinda Menon(Commonly known as Paliath Achan) and was taking rest at Aluva Palace.Paliath Achan was also not willing to pay the excessive royalty amount to the East India Company which resulted in rivalry between East India Company and clashes with these two Chief Ministers.
Moreover Velu Thampi made a proclamation at a place Kundara such that Foreign supremacy can not be tolerated and that British involvement in the cultural integrity and self pride of Kerala will not be allowed.This is known as 'Kundara Proclamation' and resulted in a war between British troops and Travancore troops near Kollam.In that battle Travancore troops  of Velu Thampi was defeated.Velu Thampi had to flee for his life from the Palace accompanied with his younger brother.The British very well knew that ifhe  was  left alive he would summon a large group of people within a short period and attack them again.So they proclaimed Rs.50,000/-
which was a huge amount at that time  for any body who could give  information  about his whereabouts .Velu Thampi had plans to go to Northern Kerala and on the way he handed over his sword at  Kilimanoor Palace to keep it under safe custody there.During the next day night he took refuge in a Devi temple at Mannadi in Pathanamthitta district.A greedy  man residing in the locality informed to the British that Veluthampi Dalawa  was staying  inside  the temple.British troops surrounded the temple immediately.Velu Thampi understood that an escape was impossible but he was not ready to surrender since he could imagine that they would harass him to the maximum.So he sat in front of his younger brother and requested  to cut off his head.His loving brother could not carry out that crime.So Velu Thampi drew out his dagger and killed himself.
The British could fetch his dead body only.They did not show any justice or respect  to his dead body also.His brother was also executed and  their house  was demolished to ground..He sought and Fought for independence of his mother Land bravely and embraced death.Mean while Paliath Achan, of Cochin was arrested and exiled to Madras.
The monument constructed  at Mannadi in Pathanamthitta District is visited by tourists far and near.
The meaning of Pathanam thitta is 'an array of houses on river bank'.The rivers Achankovil,Manimala and Pampa make this district much fertle.Agricultural products such as rice,sugarcane,Ginger,Cardamom,Tapiocca, Coconut,Cashewnut,Rubber,etc are cultivated abundantly.
Pathanamthitta town,Adoor and Thiruvalla are the three Municipalities out of which Thiruvalla is one of the oldest Municipalities of Kerala.The sabarigiri hydro Electric Project and kakkad electricity project function from this district.Dam sites of moozhiyar and Maniyar are visited by tourists in large numbers.
There is a temple in Koduman, which is 8km from Adoor known as 'Chilanthi Ambalam'.(Spider Temple)
The speciality of this temple is that by praying and by giving offerings to the Deity skin ailments due to spider venom will be cured.It will take only one week to cure serious ailments of the skin if it is caused by spider venom.
The Chandanakkudam festival of Jama- Al Mosque at Pathanamthitta town attracts large number of people.
Old and ancient palaces at Pandalam where lord Ayyappa lived, and and old palaces at aranmula also are visited by tourists.
Niranam poets who earned fame by translating Sanskrit works to Malayalam,Vennikkulam Gopala kuup,Kadammanitta Ramakrishnan,Dr.K.M.George,K.M.Tharakan,Muloor,konniyoor Narendranath, are from this district.Adoor Bhasi,Adoor Bhavani,Adoor Pankajam,Prominent film director Adoor Gopalakrishnan,MohanLal,shobhana,Jayaram,Parvathy Jayaram,Kaviyoor ponnamma,Aranmula Ponnamma,Thilakan,Kalpana,Meera Jasmine Nayan Thara,etc etc are celebrities from film field.Politician prof.P.J.Kurien is from Pathanamthitta District.
Tail Piece
After independence the Sword of Velu Thampi Dalawa was handed over to New Delhi museum from Kilimanoor Palace where it was kept for 150 years.Recently it was brought to Kerala and at all places it was displayed people in large groups,Politicians,Ministers,Administrators,Businessmen,Professionals and lay men  all gathered to show their love and affection and pay homage to Velu Thampi.The true Patriot and Martyr of Kerala is still remembered with warmth affection and love by all Keralites.All were in praise of his Summum bonum.
Let us pay our Tribute to that Evergreen Hero of Kerala..