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Sabarimala: A Path towards Lord, towards Self

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41 days of rigorous rituals and fasting; 60 days of complete devotion to the Lord; trekking through hilly regions and camping in forest areas; 100 million people take part in this pilgrimage only to surrender themselves before the supreme being and to later realise the ultimate reality by a simple act of pouring a bowl of ghee onto the idol - "Thou Art That" (you are the Lord and the Lord is you); well, it happens only in India!


Dedicated to Lord Ayyappa and located in the Western Ghats of Kerala, Sabarimala is the centre of a Hindu pilgrimage that hosts the largest annual pilgrimage in the world with 100 million people visiting each year. Faith has no barrier here except that of gender. Women aged 10 to 50 are not allowed within the temple premises. Lord Ayyappa is a celibate hence the barrier.

Seeking Refuge

Seeking Refuge

Clad in plain black, blue or saffron, devotees who decide to make this pilgrimage are called Swamis or Ayyappan himself. For the realisation that the essence of God is in you is the ultimate take away from this spiritual journey.

Photo Courtesy: ragesh ev

Irumudi

Irumudi

Devotees carry a cotton bag on their heads that contains the offerings for the Lord called Irumudi. A red irumudi shows that it is the devotee's first time here. Till their third year, devotees carry blue irumudis and thereafter stick to saffron. The offerings symbolise the merging of Jeevatma and Paramatma.

Photo Courtesy: Natesh Ramaswamy

Open for Worship

Open for Worship

The temple is open for worship only few times a year mostly during Mandalapooja (November 15 to December 26), Makaravilakku (Makara Sankranti) and Vishu, and the first six days of each Malayalam month.

Photo Courtesy: Natesh Ramaswamy

Makara Jyoti

Makara Jyoti

A rare sight takes place every Makara Sankranti after deeparadhana to the Lord in Sabarimala. Vilakku or a bright light appears three times atop the Ponnambalamedu hill.

Photo Courtesy: Harhar2008

Vavarswami

Vavarswami

Surprisingly, there's a mosque in Sabarimala dedicated to Vavar, a man, who is believed to have followed the path of Lord Ayyappa.

Photo Courtesy: Jai

The Lord's Unruly Followers

The Lord's Unruly Followers

Each year the security is increased in the pilgrim centre. Stampede has become a common issue here, but measures have been taken to resume peace in the area.

Photo Courtesy: Avsnarayan

Read more about: temples, kerala, pilgrimage
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