Sabarimala – Importance
One of the largest Hindu annual pilgrimages in the world, Sabarimala is located in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. Home to the highly revered Ayyapa temple, it is surrounded by verdant hills, lush forests and sterling streams. Thronged by millions of devotees every year, Sabarimala is soaked in absolute peace and tranquility.
The largest Hindu pilgrimage in Kerala and the second largest annual pilgrimage in the world. Sabarimala is home to the beautiful Ayyapa temple. Situated in the midst of 18 hills, the temple is said to be the spot where Hindu God, Ayyapa meditated after gaining victory over the demon, Mahishi. The temple is not open to women between the age of 12 to 50 as legend depicts Lord Ayyapa as a celibate. A visit to this holy temple involves much preparation and resistance. Pay your respects here and rejuvenate your souls. Sabarimala is said to be the third richest temple in India. This, when it opens only between November 15 and January 15 and for the first few days of the Malayali month (roughly corresponding to the middle of each of our months).
On January 12-14, a procession carries Manikanta’s crown, sword and other embellishments from his palace to the shrine. Most pilgrims time their journey to coincide with January 14, when a (much debated) celestial light called Makarajyothi is said to appear in the skies. Pilgrims must observe vows of abstinence – 41 days of vegetarianism, celibacy and prayer. Intoxicants are prohibited. The route up the hill lies through dense forests, beautiful landscapes, with moving scenes of faith, but also heavy crowds and policing to avoid stampedes. A remarkable stop is the shrine of Vavar, the Muslim lieutenant to Ayyappa, in Erumeli, whose right of place in Sabarimala was defined in Manikanta’s original plan.
A very important pilgrimage for Hindu men, Sabarimala Temple is believed to be the place where lord Ayappan meditated after killing the demon Mahishi. This temple is perched on top of a hill and is surrounded by mountains and forests. Even today hundreds of devotees follow the same forest track that Ayyappa is believed to have taken himself to reach the temple. Though a few choose to drive upto the Pamba river. From here every pilgrim has to trek 4 km Women between the ages 10 to 50 are not allowed inside the temple as Lord Ayappan is celibate. All the pilgrims are expected to follow a 41 days penance where they are not supposed to consume alcohol, smoke, eat non vegetarian food, indulge in sexual acts or shave or have hair cuts. They are also expected to wear plain blue/black traditional clothes. The temple remains open only on the first six days of every Malayalam month, during the days of Mandalapuja (15 Dec to 26 Jan approx) and the festive occations of Makara Sankrati and Vishu.