Sabari mala is a very sacred pilgrim center for the Hindus

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Sabari mala is a very sacred pilgrim center for the Hindus

Post by Worman25 on Sat Sep 27 2008, 17:30

Pathanamthitta is a picturesque district in Kerala. It has a tropical diversity consisting of forests, paddy fields and plantations of rubber, cardamom and pepper. This district is bounded by the Western Ghats on the east, Alapuzha in the west, Kollam in the South and Idukki district in the north. The three main rivers that flow here are Pamba, Manimala and Achenkovil. The district is famous for many Hindu pilgrim centers. Among them, the most famous is the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabari mala.

This shrine draws over 2 million people from the surrounding states during the months of November- January. It is situated at a height of 914 mts above the sea level. The pilgrims have to follow strict austerities before undertaking the sacred pilgrimage without which the entire exercise is futile. The austerities are observed for 41 days from the first day of the Malyalam month of Vrischikam (mid November). A pilgrim undertaking his maiden pilgrimage is called Kanni Ayyappan. The ritual begins with the wearing of a Thulasi or Rudraksha garland which he receives from Guruswami. A Guruswami is a person who has undertaken the pilgrimage several times
before. From this time onward, the pilgrim surrenders his thought, words and deeds to Lord Ayyappa who is
considered as the guardian of mountaineers.

Sabari mala is located at a distance of 191 kms from Thiruvanandapuram and 210 kms from Kochi. Vehicles are allowed only up to Pamba and then onwards, the pilgrimage involves a 4 km trek in the wilderness before reaching the sanctum sanctorum. Makaravilakku and Mandala Puja are the main events of the temple. The temple is closed for the rest of the year except for the first five days of every Malayalam month and during Vishu (April). There is a shrine of Ayyappa kept at the Valiyakoikal temple at Pamba. This temple is located close to the Valiyakoikal Palace where Ayyappa or Manikanta had a sojourn as the son of Raja of Pandalam. Valiyakoikal temple is located on the banks of the River Achenkovil and pilgrims stop here before proceeding to Sabari mala. Three days prior to Makaravilaku, the sacred ornaments of Sree Ayyappa are taken from Pandalam palace in a procession to Sabari mala.

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