There is a famous temple of Lord Ayyappa Swamy at Sabarimala in the Indian state of Kerala, where people from all over the world come to pay obeisance to Ayyappa Swamy. Let us know some special things of Swami Ayyappa.
Ayyappa is son of Shiva and Vishnu
Lord Ayyappa’s father is Shiva and mother is Mohini. Lord Shiva was ejaculated after seeing the Mohini form of Vishnu. His semen was called Parad and from his semen later a son named Sastava was born who was called Ayyappa in South India. Being born from Shiva and Vishnu, he is also called ‘Hariharputra‘. Apart from these, Lord Ayyappa is also known by the names Ayyappan, Shasta, Manikanta.
Incarnation of Shasta
In some Puranas, Ayyappa Swami is believed to be an incarnation of Shasta. Ayyappan is considered to be the incarnation of Shishu Shasta, who is mentioned in the Kamban Ramayana, the eighth canto of the Mahabhagavata and the Asurakanda of the Skandapurana. There are many temples of Ayyappa Swamy in South India, Sabarimala is one of them. It is also called the pilgrimage center of the South.
He was adopted by a King
According to the religious legend, Bholenath was fascinated by the Mohini form of Lord Vishnu during the churning of the ocean and under the influence of this a child was born which he left on the banks of Pampa river. During this, King Rajasekhara brought him up for 12 years. Once Swami Ayyappa went to the forest to fetch the milk of a lioness for his mother and there Ayyappa Swamy also killed the demon Mahishi, the sister of Mahishasura, because she wanted to marry the demon Ayyappa Swamy. After killing Mahishi, Lord Ayyappa went to the mountains and meditated.
Legend has it that Ayyappa Swamy was abandoned by his parents by tying a bell around his neck. Later Rajasekhara, the king of Pandalam raised Ayyappa Swamy as his son. But Lord Ayyappa did not like all this and when he got quietness, he left the palace.
Sabrimala – famous temple of Ayyappa in Kerala
On the night of Makar Sankranti near the temple of Ayyappa Swamy, a light is seen here and there in the thick darkness. Crores of devotees from all over the world come every year to have a glimpse of this flame. It is said that whenever this light is seen, noise is also heard along with it. Devotees believe that this is Dev Jyoti and God lights it. According to the priests of the temple management, Makar Jyoti is a special star visible in the sky on the first day of the month of Makar.
It is said that Ayyappa established unity between Shaivites and Vaishnavites. He had accomplished his goal and attained divine knowledge at Sabarimala.
Ayyappa Swamy is a celibate and ascetic and hence the entry of women into his temple was prohibited. Girls and women between the ages of 10 and 50 cannot enter here. Old women and girls could visit his temple. ‘Sabarimala’ means mountain in Malayalam. There are dense forests on Sabari mountain. This temple is situated on 18 hills surrounded by forests. This place is situated in Pathanathita district surrounded by Sahyadri ranges. One has to travel on foot from Pampa to Sabarimala. Some people also associate it with the name of Rambhakt Shabri, because Matang Rishi’s ashram was near Pampa Sarovar where Shabri’s cottage was.
It is also believed that Parashurama installed the idol at Sabarimala for Ayyappan worship. In order to have darshan of Lord Ayyappa in the temple, the devotees first have to observe a 41-day rigorous fasting ritual called ‘Mandalam’ for 41 days. It can be visited three times a year – Vishu (in the middle of April), Mandalapuja (in Margashirsha) and Malarvilakku (in Makara Sankranti). According to religious belief, if devotees come here after fasting wearing Tulsi or Rudraksh garlands, all their wishes are fulfilled, because Ayyappa Swamy loves Tulsi and Rudraksh garlands.
Rituals to visit Sabrimala
Devotees observe celibacy for 41 days by giving up meat, fish, alcohol etc. 2 months prior to having darshan of Ayyappa Swamy, only then they have darshan in the temple. If someone does darshan without doing this, then Ayyappa Swamy gets angry with him. A special type of Sabarimala Aravan Payasam Prasad is made to offer to Ayyappa Swamy in the temple. Payasam is prepared in a traditional way.
It is believed that in the 12th century there was a prince named Manikandan who discovered the way to reach the temple. This prince was considered an incarnation of Lord Ayyapa. Prince Manikandan was accompanied by many followers to the temple, including the forefathers of the Vavar family. Pallikettu is mandatory for the devotees when they come to visit the temple. Pallikettu is a small cloth bag that holds offerings like jaggery, coconut and rice etc. To reach the temple, one has to cross 18 holy steps, which have different meanings. The first five steps are linked to the five senses of man. The subsequent 8 steps are associated with human emotions. The next three steps are considered to be human qualities and the last two steps are considered to be the symbol of knowledge and ignorance.