Lord Ayyappa is a very popular Hindu deity, who is mainly worshipped in South India. He is considered to be the epitome of dharma, truth, and righteousness and is often called upon to obliterate evil. Lord Ayyappa is considered to be the ruler of the universe, and thus meditates alongside Lord Vishnu and Shiva.

Legend

According to Puranas, Lord Ayyappa was born out of the union of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, when the latter was in Mohini form. Lord Vishnu took the form of Mohini to have destroyed a deadly demon Bhashmasur and acquire the elixir (amrut) for the gods during the great churning of oceans. Legend has it that Lord Shiva got swayed by the charm of Mohini and Lord Ayyappa was born of their union. While Lord Ayyappa was still a minor, a lady demon had created havoc in the down south. She had got a boon from gods that she could only be defeated by the son born out of the union of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. As it happened, Lord Ayyappa defeated her in a battle.

Upon her defeat, it was revealed that the demon was actually a beautiful young woman who had been cursed to live the life of a demon. The defeat set the woman free who, in turn, proposed to Lord Ayyappa. He refused to say that he had been ordained to go to the forest and answer the prayers of devotees. But, the young woman was persistent. So, Lord Ayyappa promised to marry her the day Kanni-swamis (new devotees) stop visiting him with their prayers at Sabarimala. The woman agreed to wait for him at a neighboring temple. The woman is also worshipped today as Malikapurathamma at a neighboring temple. 

The worship of Lord Ayyappa

The pilgrims of Sabarimala have to reach the temple through difficult treks in the forest as the vehicles cannot reach there. The pilgrims have to observe celibacy for 41 days before going to Sabarimala. They are also required to strictly follow a Lacto-vegetarian diet, refrain from alcohol, not use any profanity and allow the hair and nails to grow without cutting. They are expected to bathe twice a day and visit the local temples regularly. They wear black or blue clothes, do not shave until the completion of the pilgrimage, and smear vibhuti or sandal paste on their forehead.

Lord Ayyappa temple is located all over India at various places like Kerala, Mumbai, New Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, etc., but the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple, Kerala is the most famous out of all.

Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple-

Sabarimala Ayyappa temple is a prominent Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, the God of growth. Prince Manikandan is considered an Avatar of Lord Ayyappa. It is believed that he meditated at Sabarimala temple and became one with the divine.

Location-

Sabarimala temple is located on a hilltop in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district. It is surrounded by 18 hills in the Periyar Tiger Reserve. The temple attracts pilgrims from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and from various parts of the country and the world. 

Mandala Kaalam-

The pilgrimage to Sabarimala starts from the first day of Vrischika month of Malayalam year (month of Scorpio) and ends on the 11th day of Dhanu month (the Month of Sagittarius). This season of the 41-days pilgrimage is known as Mandala kalam. The season is in the months of December and January.

Prasadam of Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple

The prasadam at Sabarimala Ayyappa temple is Aravana payasam and Appam. These are prepared by using rice, ghee, sugar, jaggery, etc. The rice needed to prepare the prasadam at Sabarimala temple is supplied by Chettikulangara Devi Temple, the second largest temple under the Travancore Devaswom Board situated at Mavelikkara.

Sabarimala temple is one of the most pious Hindu temples present in India and attracts lakhs of devotees in every winter. It’s a must-visit place if you plan a trip to Kerala.

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