Sabarimala Temple

Coordinates: 9°26′04.6″N 77°04′53.0″E / 9.434611°N 77.081389°E / 9.434611; 77.081389
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Sabarimala Sree Ayyappan Temple
The temple of Ayyappan in Sabarimala, Kerala
Religion
AffiliationHinduism
DistrictPathanamthitta
DeityAyyappan
FestivalsMakaravilakku, Makara Sankranti (14th January)
Governing bodyTravancore Devaswom Board
Location
LocationSabarimala
StateKerala
CountryIndia
Sabarimala Temple is located in Kerala
Sabarimala Temple
Sabarimala Temple (Kerala)
Sabarimala Temple is located in India
Sabarimala Temple
Sabarimala Temple (India)
Geographic coordinates9°26′04.6″N 77°04′53.0″E / 9.434611°N 77.081389°E / 9.434611; 77.081389
Architecture
TypeKerala Architecture (Traditional Kerala Vastu Shastra)
CreatorAs per tradition Vishwakarma, Pandhalam King Rajasekhara, (sculptor) is believed to be Parashurama
Completed11th century; the temple site is older
Elevation1,260 m (4,134 ft)
Website
sabarimala.kerala.gov.in

The Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple[1] (Malayalam pronunciation: [ʃabəɾimala]) is a Hindu temple that is devoted to the worship of a deity named Ayyappan, also known as Dharma Shasta. Ayyappan is believed to be the son of Shiva and Mohini (Female avatar of Lord Vishnu).[2] The temple is situated atop a hill in the village of Ranni-Perunad, within the Ranni Taluk of the Pathanamthitta district in the state of Kerala, India. The temple is surrounded by 18 hills in the Periyar Tiger Reserve.[3] It is one of the largest annual pilgrimage sites in the world, with an estimate of over 10 to 15 million devotees visiting every year.[4][5][6][7]

The temple is open for worship only during the days of Mandala Pooja (approximately 15 November to 26 December),[8] Makaravilakku or "Makara Sankranti" (14 January), and Maha Thirumal Sankranti (14 April), and the first five days of each Malayalam month. The Sabarimala pilgrimage includes a unique tradition of offering prayer at the mosque of Vavar, a Muslim devotee of Ayappan.[9] The Sabarimala Temple serves as a prime example of the amalgamation of several religious traditions within the Indian context.[10]

In the year 1991, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was initiated, leading to the Kerala High Court issuing a directive to the Devaswom Board to uphold the traditional practises of the temple. These practises encompassed the prohibition of women of a certain age group, rather than a blanket exclusion of women, from accessing the temple premises.

On September 28, 2018, the Supreme Court of India rendered a decision, wherein a panel consisting of four male justices and one female judge voted by a majority of 4-1 to invalidate the prohibition on female entry inside the temple, where the female judge, Justice Indu Malhotra, voted in favor of the prohibition.

Origins and Legends[edit]

According to the Bhagavatam, Shiva fell in love with Vishnu while he was in Mohini form. Their connection resulted in the conception of Shasta. As the other name for Shiva is Hara and that of Vishnu is Hari, the child born was also known as Hariharaputra.[11] It is believed that Ayyappa is an avatar of Shasta.[12]

The worship of Shasta forms part of the ancient history of south India.[13] There are many Shasta temples in South India and across the globe.[14]

Five Shasta temples are said to be linked to Parashurama, an incarnation of Vishnu. Sastha temples in Kulathupuzha, Aryankavu, Achankovil, Sabarimala, and Ponnambalmedu are among the five Shasta temples.[15]

Folklore says that the temple in Kulathupuzha is related to the deity's childhood years, where he was enshrined as a child. The Aryankavu temple is related to the deity's adolescence, the Brahmachari state. The Achankovil temple is connected to the deity's Grahastha years, where he is shown sitting on a horse and holding a sword, along with his wives, Pushkala and Poorna. The Sabarimala temple is associated with the deity's Vanaprastha years, and in the Ponnambalmedu or Kantamala temple, the deity is shown as the greatest Yogi.[15][16]

Legend of Manikandan[edit]

Sage Suta told his followers the story of how Ayyappa was born, according to Bhutnathopakhyanam, a text for Ayyappan followers. After Chamundi killed Mahisasura, his sister Mahisi arrived to take revenge on the devas (gods). Brahma gave Mahishi a boon that made her invincible, and only a human born of two males could kill her. The devas were afraid and helpless, so they sought assistance from Vishnu. The union of Shiva and Vishnu, who took the avatar of Mohini, produced a son named Manikandan.

Manikandan was abandoned on the banks of the Pampa River in southern India. The emperor Rajasekhara of the Panthalam dynasty, who didn't have any children, found this child. In the meantime, the queen delivered a baby. The queen disliked Manikandan and devised a scheme to eliminate him. She lied about her sickness, claiming that she could only be treated by consuming tiger's milk. Twelve-year-old Manikandan ventured into the wilderness in search of tiger's milk for her mother. On his journey through the forest, he destroyed Mahisi. The devas were pleased at Mahishi's death. Indra assumed the appearance of a tiger, which Manikandan used to return to the kingdom. He flung an arrow into the forest to mark the location of a temple, directed them to construct a temple, and then departed for Devaloka (the devas' abode).[17]

Connection with Rama[edit]

Shabari was a tribal devotee of Rama who is mentioned in the Ramayana. Sabarimala literally translates to "the hill of Sabari."[18]

As per legend, Sabari met Sage Matanga near the foot of Mount Rishyamukha. He became her guru, and she devotedly served him for years. When Matanga was on his deathbed, he foretold that Rama would come to grant her darshan. He told her to wait for the arrival of Rama. Since that time, Sabari has only left her ashram each day to gather berries for Rama. She would pick one, taste it, and place it in her basket if it was sweet, discarding the bitter berries because she wanted Rama to have only the sweet berries. While in his search for Sita, Rama visits the Sabari at her ashram. Sabari fed Rama with the berries that she had collected.[19]

Rama saw a divine person doing penance and asked Shabari to tell him who it was. Shabari said it was Sastha (Ayyappan). Sastha also stood and greeted Rama.[18][19]

Legend of Malikapurathamma[edit]

According to mythology, Maalikapurathamma is the daughter of Cheerappanchira Panicker who taught Kalaripayattu to Lord Ayyappa.[20][21][22]

According to another tale, upon successfully executing his divine duty of destroying a female demon, Ayappa witnessed the emergence of a female figure from the lifeless remains. The female had been subjected to a curse that condemned her to a life as a demon. However, the act of killing effectively nullified the curse, restoring her to her original state. She extended a proposal of marriage to Ayappa, but he declined. Nevertheless, Ayappa made a commitment to marry her on the condition that kanni-swamis, referring to first-time pilgrims, cease their visits to Sabarimala. She is currently in a state of repose and anticipation close to a nearby shrine that is next to the main temple, where she is known as Malikapurathamma.

According to the tale, it is said that, as a tribute to Malikapurathamma, Lord Ayyappa does not receive women who are menstrual. Additionally, the women made the conscious decision to refrain from visiting Ayyappa because doing so would be disrespectful to Malikapurathamma's love and devotion.[23][24]

The temple[edit]

Sabarimala Picture gallery
The main temple
Sabaripeedam
Pathinettampadi, the 18 steps which lead to the sanctum
The sanctum sanctorum

History[edit]

The Sabarimala temple does not have any ancient or medieval references. Nevertheless, there are extant late medieval references pertaining to the temple.

The Pandalam ruling family drafted a mortgage document in 1793. It states that the royal family is pledging the revenue returns, which encompass the income generated by the Sabarimala Temple, to the Tranvancore state.[25]

In 1863, Ward and Conner published an article that provided a description of Sabarimala and its vicinity.[26]

In the year 1902, the ruler of Travancore issued a directive for the restoration of the Sabarimala temple, which had suffered damage as a result of a fire incident. Kochu Thomman, a Mavelikkara resident of Christian faith, funded and carried out the reconstruction contract.[27]

In the year 1950, temple was rebuilt after arson attack[28] No charges were brought,[29] and the earlier stone image of the deity was replaced by a panchaloha (an alloy of five metals) idol, about 1 and a half feet tall. Neelakanta Panicker and his younger brother, Ayyappa Panicker, who are members of the Thattavila Vishwakarma family in Chengannur, Kerala, created the Panchaloha idol to replace the original stone statue of the deity. Edavankadan T.N. Padmanabhan Achari from Mavaelikkara was appointed the supervisor in charge of the new idol by Maharaja Sree Chithira Tirunaal Balarama Varma.[30] In the early 1950s, through P. T. Rajan efforts, the present panchaloha idol of Ayyappan was installed at Sabarimalai, and a procession was taken all over Madras state.[31][32]

Architecture and shrines[edit]

The Sannidhanam (main temple) is built on a plateau about 40 feet high.[33][34][35]

The temple consists of a sanctum sanctorum with a gold-plated roof and four golden finials at the top, two mandapams, and the balikalpura, which houses the altar.[36] In 1969, the flagstaff (dhwajastambha) was installed.[37]

The 18 sacred steps are the main stairway to the temple. As per the custom followed, no pilgrim without "Irumudikkettu" can ascend the 18 sacred steps. In 1985, the 18 steps were covered by Panchaloha. The northern gate is open for those who do not carry an "Irumudikkettu", as observed in the 1991 Kerala High Court judgement.[38]

Ayyappan's half-brother Ganesha's shrine is southwest of the sanctum. Devotees offer part of the broken coconut (Neythenga) to the fireplace (Azhi). Ganapati homam is the main offering.[35]

The temples of Ayyappan's trusted lieutenants, Karuppu Sami and Kadutha Sami, are positioned as his guards (kaval) at the foot of the holy 18 sacred steps.

The temple of Maalikapurathamma, whose importance is almost on par with that of Ayyappan, is located a few yards from Sannidhanam. It is believed that Ayyappan had specific instructions that he wanted Malikappurath Amma on his left side. Prior to the fire disaster, there was only a Peeda Prathishta (holy seat) at Malikappuram. Brahmasree Kandararu Maheswararu Thanthri installed the idol of Malikappurath Amma. Maalikapurathamma holds a Sankh, Chakram and Varada Abhya Mudra. Now the idol is covered with a gold golaka. The temple was also reconstructed in the last decade, and now the conical roof and sopanam are covered with gold.[39]

Nagaraja Shrine at Sabarimala

The shrine of the king of the snakes, Nagaraja, is placed adjacent to the Malikappurathamma temple. Pilgrims, after the Darsan of Ayyappa and Kannimoola Ganapathi, make their darshan and give offerings to Nagaraja.

Manimandapam is the place where Ayyappan vanished into the temple.[39][unreliable source?]

The Sabarimala temple complex includes Pampa Ganapathi temple, Nilakal Mahadeva temple, and Palliyarakkavu Devi Temple temple. The Nilakal Mahadeva temple and Palliyarakkavu Devi Temple temple are as old as the Ayyappan temple, and the deities are worshipped as the parents of Ayyappan. Ganapathi temple at Pampa has Pampa Maha Ganapathi and Athi Ganapathi (lit. old Ganesha) idols; in Sreekovil, the idol from the first Ganesha temple is worshipped. Sabari Peedam has a temple for Rama and Hanuman as well.[citation needed]

Festivals and religious practices[edit]

Prasadam[edit]

Aravana Payasam
Aravana Payasam

The prasadam at Sabarimala temple are Aravana payasam and Appam. An 'Appam' is a sweet ball composed of rice, kadalippazham, and ghee, whereas 'Arvana' refers to a dense and sweet dessert.[40] The Chief Commissioner, Travancore Devaswom Board, said that the board has been appointed by the Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, as a consultant for providing technical guidance to ensure the quality of Aravana, Appam, and other prasadam preparations at Sabarimala temple.[41]

Harivarasanam[edit]

Vadakkathillathu Eswaran Namoothiri, who held the position of melsanthi, a chief priest, started the tradition of singing keerthan in the year 1950. Following the Athazhapooja, he performed the recitation of Harivarasanam. Harivarasanam is a Sanskrit Urakkupattu, a lullaby. The recitation takes place nightly before the closure of the temple entrance. The keerthan can be found in the Sasthasthuti kadambam, a publication authored by Kambankudi Sundaram Kulathu Ayyer. The song depicts Ayappa as Hariharaputhra, a deity revered in the Vedas.[42]

Neyyabhishekam[edit]

This significant ritual involves pouring sacred ghee brought by pilgrims in their Pallikettu or Irumudi (a two-compartment bag made of handwoven cotton cloth used to carry the offerings for Sabarimala Temple carried on their heads) on the idol of Ayyappan. It symbolically means the merging of Jeevatma with the Paramatma. While a red-colored irumudi is used by a pilgrim on his first journey as a Kanni Ayyappan to Sabarimala, others use navy blue till third year and thereafter saffron colored irumudi.

Makara Vilakku[edit]

Rama and his brother Lakshmana met Sabari, a tribal devotee, at Sabarimala. Sabari offered him fruits after tasting them. But Rama accepted them gladly and wholeheartedly. Rama then saw a divine person doing tapasya. He asked Sabari who it was. Sabari said it was Shasta. Rama walked towards him. Shasta stood up and welcomed the Prince of Ayodhya. The anniversary of this incident is celebrated on Makara Vilakku Day. It is believed that on Makara Vilakku Day, Ayyappan stops his penance to bless his devotees. The day is also called Makar Sankranti.[citation needed]

Makarajyoti[edit]

This is a star that appears at the moment of Makar Sankranti, before the holy arti and the lighting of the Makaravilakku at Ponnambalamedu. It is the custom that after seeing the Makarajyoti star, the lighting of the Makaravilakku shall begin.

Tattvamasi[edit]

The most important message written at the temple facade is one of the four Mahāvākyas of Advaita or the non-dualistic school of philosophy. Tat Tvam Asi, the 3rd of four Mahavakyas which in sanskrit translates to "Thou Art That" is the principal philosophy that governs the temple and pilgrimage. As the pilgrimage is symbolic for the journey to self-realization that all living beings possess the part and parcel of parabrahman (lord), pilgrims refer to each other as Swami, acknowledging their divinity with lord seated in everyone heart as bramhan.[citation needed]

The oneness of jIva and Ishvara are qualitatively but not quantitatively described by enquiry into the inner meaning of the statement ‘tat tvam asi’as follows:

  • "Tat" refers to Ishvara, the lord - the word Ishvara has a literal and an implied meaning;
  • The literal meaning of ‘Ishvara’ is ‘supreme bramhan (above bramhan and para bramhan )’;
  • refers to the jIva, the individual identities of everyone;
  • The literal meaning of ‘jIva’ is ‘AtmA identified with mithyA gross and subtle bodies’;
  • The implied meaning is pure consciousness-AtmA without mithyA gross and subtle bodies;
  • In advaita AtmA and parmatma (Brahman) are different names of the one Reality;
  • Thus, jIva and Ishvara are Absolutely non-different in qualitatively, but only difference is quantitatively .

[43]

The history behind the worshipping methods[edit]

The customs of the pilgrims to Sabarimala are based on five worshipping methods; those of Shaivites, Shaktists and Vaishnavites. At first, there were three sections of devotees – the devotees of Shakti worship their deity by way of yajna, literally sacrifice.[citation needed], the devotees of Vishnu who followed the strict penance and continence, and the devotees of Shiva who partly followed these two methods. Another name of Ayyappa is Shasta. All these can be seen merged into the beliefs of pilgrims to Sabarimala. The chain the pilgrims wear comes from the Rudraksha chain of the Shaivites. The strict fasting, penance and continence is taken out of the beliefs of the Vaishnavites. The offering of tobacco to Kaduthaswamy can be considered to be taken from the Shaktists.[citation needed]

Pilgrimage[edit]

A sign-board that indicates the direction to Sabarimala. The multilingual board is written in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and English (in that order, from top to bottom)
Crowd management of pilgrims

The duration of the pilgrimage to the Sabarimala temple is predetermined. Furthermore, the pilgrims are required to undergo various stages of the pilgrimage in an ordered manner.[44]

The pilgrimage to Sabarimala starts on the first day of Vrischika month of the Malayalam year (the month of Scorpio) and ends on the 11th day of Dhanu month (the Month of Sagittarius). This season of the 41-day pilgrimage is known as the mandala (season). The season is in the months of December and January.[45]

The Nearest railway station is Chengannur railway station is known as the Gateway of Sabarimala. because Devotees from Andhra,Telangana,Karnataka,Tamil Nadu and the rest of India alight at Chengannur railway station for their pilgrimage about 70% of devotees alight here so railway is going to create a new railway line from chengannur to pamba (Distance 75 km).

The devotees are expected to follow a Vratham (a 41-day austerity period) prior to the pilgrimage.[46][47][48] This begins with wearing a special Mala (a neck chain made of Rudraksha or Tulasi beads is commonly used, although other types of chains are also available). During the 41 days of Vratham, the devotee who has taken the vow is required to strictly follow the rules that include following only a lacto-vegetarian diet (In India, vegetarianism is synonymous with lacto-vegetarianism), following celibacy, follow teetotalism, not using any profanity and have to control the anger, and allowing the hair and nails to grow without cutting.[48] They must try their maximum to help others, and see everything around them as lord Ayyappa. They are expected to bath twice in a day and visit the local temples regularly and only wear plain black or blue coloured traditional clothing.[49]

Many Hindu pilgrims also visit a mosque in Erumely dedicated to Vavar, a Muslim saint who according to tradition was devotee of Ayyappan.[50]

Millions of devotees still follow the traditional mountainous forest path (approximately 61 km) from Erumely, 12.8 km from Vandiperiyar and 8 km from Chalakayam, believed to be taken by Ayyappa himself. The Erumely route starts from Erumely to Aludha river, then crosses the Aludha mountain to reach Karivilam thodu. Now comes the sacred Karimala crossing, from there to Cheriyanavattom, Valliyanavattom and finally Pamba River. Then they have to climb Neelimala and enter into the Ganesha-Bettam, Shreerama-Betta Padam. Then comes the Aranmula kottaram, which is one of the stops of holy journey Thiruvabharana Ghoshayatra (the grand procession of the divine jewelry).[49]

These days people use vehicles to reach the Pamba River by an alternate route. From Pamba, all the pilgrims begin trekking the steep mountain path of Neeli Mala till Sabari Mala. This route is now highly developed, with emergency shops and medical aid by the sides, and supporting aid is provided to the pilgrims while climbing the steep slope, which used to be a mere trail through dense jungle. The elderly pilgrims are lifted by men on bamboo chairs till the top, on being paid.[51]

Pilgrims trekking on the path through forests leading to Sabarimala temple

Women[edit]

Temple management places religious restrictions against the entry of women aged 10 to 50. This is based on the tradition of the temple to respect the celibate nature of the deity; similar restrictions are present against the entry of men on certain days or the inner sanctum in other Hindu temples such as the Pushkar Brahma Temple[52][53][54] and the Kamakhya_Temple.[55] in Guwahati.

According to the Memoir of the Survey of the Travancore and Cochin States, which was published in two volumes by the Madras government in the 19th century, women of menstruating age were denied entry into the Sabarimala temple two centuries ago. Though the authors, lieutenants of the Madras Infantry, completed the survey by the end of the year 1820 after nearly five years of research, it was published in two volumes only in 1893 and 1901. According to the report, individuals who have reached puberty or a specific age are prohibited from approaching the temple, while elderly women and young girls are permitted to do so. This is due to the deity's (Ayyappan) aversion to any sexual activity in the vicinity.[56]

Up until 1991, women visited the temple, though in small numbers. Women pilgrims below the age of 50 would visit the temple to conduct the first rice-feeding ceremony of their children (Chorroonu) in the temple premises.[57]

In 1991, Justices K. Paripoornan and K. Balanarayana Marar of the Kerala High Court, in their ruling against the Travancore Devaswom Board, restricted the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 from offering worship at the temple, stating that such a restriction was in accordance with the usage prevalent from time immemorial.[38] In addition, the judges directed the Government of Kerala to use the police force to ensure that restriction was complied with.[38] The high court also stated that "since there is no restriction between one section and another section or between one class and another class among the Hindus in the matter of entry to a temple (Sabarimala), whereas the prohibition is only in respect of women of a particular age group and not women as a class."[58]

On 28 September 2018, the Supreme Court of India, in a 4-1 majority decision (4 men and 1 women judicial panel), overturned the ban on the entry of women.[59][60] The Chief Justice, Dipak Misra, stated that the selective ban on women was not an "essential part" of Hinduism but instead a form of "religious patriarchy".[59] Justice Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud stated that the ban "stigamatises" and "stereotypes" women while "placing the burden of men's celibacy" on them.[59][61] The lone female judge, Indu Malhotra noted in her dissenting judgement that "what constitutes an essential religious practice is for the religious community to decide" and not a matter that should be decided by the courts. She added that "notions of rationality cannot be invoked in matters of religion by courts."[59][62][63] After the Supreme Court's decision, there were a lot of protests and gatherings in the southern part of Kerala. In response to the decision made on September 28, 2018, devotees have filed about 65 review petitions. The Supreme Court of India accepted review petitions against its own orders. The Supreme Court has decided to review the petition and hold a public hearing because of the important facts and circumstances of the case.[64]

This led to protests at Nilakkal and Pamba base camps on 17 October 2018, when the temple was opened for the first time after the Supreme Court verdict. Protesters assaulted women journalists, stole their camera equipment, and damaged a vehicle. The police were also attacked. A number of women were among the protesters, checking cars to see if they contained women of menstruating age and helping with the road blocks.[65][66] There were also reports of police damaging protesters' motor bikes.[67] However Ayyappan devotees in a large scale all over Kerala and also in other southern state of India namely Tamil Nadu, Andra pradesh and Karnataka, protested against entry of women in 10-50 age group in Sabarimala. large number of people participated in the protest mainly women devotees.[68] On 26 December 2018 Devotees conducted 'Ayyappa Jyothi' lighting diya or lamp all across the state of Kerala, Karnataka covering a distance of about 765 km from 6 pm to 6-30 pm against young women's entry to temple. Thousands joined in the event.[69][70] The protestors were physically attacked in Kannur and the state government filed cases against 1400 unidentified participants.[71][69]

Even other religious groups supported the cause of devotees. Prominent Jain Acharya Yugbhushan Suri Maharaj, also known as Pandit Maharaj, has said that sanctity was a religious issue and that it was connected to fundamental religious rights.[72] Commenting on the Sabarimala temple row, Pandit Maharaj told IndiaToday.in, "Whether it is Sabarimala or Jharkhand's Shikharji, the agitations are for sanctity," adding, "Religion talks about inner belief and sanctity. This should be respected. I am not against the judiciary or the Supreme Court, but they should not overlook the belief of the people." Also, Art of Living founder Ravi Shankar batted for the rules that have been traditionally followed at the sanctum sanctorum of the Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala.[73]

Two women of menstruating age attempted to enter the temple on 19 October 2018 but were blocked by protesters about 100 m away. After the Thantri threatened to close the sanctum sanctorum if the women attempted to ascend the 18 sacred steps, they turned back.[74][75]

On 2 January 2019 at 3:45 AM, for the first time after the Supreme Court verdict, two women in their early 40s were escorted by police into the Sabarimala temple, allegedly through a back gate meant for staff. The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, confirmed their entry. Thereafter, priests closed the temple for one hour to ritually purify it as the 41-days pilgrimage is known as Mandala kalam or the 41-day austerity period/Vratham had not been given a by-pass and the women entered the temple premises violating all those traditions too.[45][46][76][77][78][79]

After the hearing ended in February 2019, the Court, led by the newly appointed Chief Justice, Mr. Ranjan Gagoi, issued an order to send the case to a larger bench of seven judges so that the decision made on September 28, 2018, could be looked at again.[64]

Administration[edit]

Administration and legal binding is managed by Travancore Devasvom Board, an affiliate authority of Government of Kerala. Thazhamon Madom is the traditional priest family who has powers over the religious matters to be decided in Sabarimala Temple. Tantri is the highest priest and is the head of the temple. It's the duty of the family to decide on religious matters relating to Sabarimala shrine. Tantris are to be present in all ceremonial Poojas and functions to be held at temple premises and functions associated with temple. The installation of idols of the temple was also done by Tantri of this family.

Currently, Kandararu Rajeevararu and Kandararu Mahesh Mohanaru from Thazhamon Madom are the thantris of Sabarimala, taking yearly turns and A K Sudheer Namboodiri is the elected melshanti of Sabarimala, from November 2019 to November 2020.

Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) has decided to allow more devotees daily to visit the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple as of 1 December 2020. The number of devotees has been increased from the present 1,000 to 2,000 on week days and from 2,000 to 3,000 on weekends and holidays.

All necessary precautionary measures have been taken at the shrine premises and base camps adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.[80]

Environmental efforts[edit]

An information signage near Nadappanthal, Sabarimala, inviting all to join hands in making Sabarimala free from plastic and other wastes.

The waste disposed by the devotees to Sabarimala is threatening the wildlife of the region[81][82][83] and the evergreen forests.[84] Efforts are on to make Sabarimala free from pollution and waste. High Court of Kerala has directed that 'Irumudikkettu' should not contain plastic materials.[85] Projects like "Punyam Poonkavanam" has been initiated under the aegis of governmental departments.[86] Mata Amritanandamayi Math has been regularly contributing to keep Sabarimala and its precincts clean.[87][88] While cleaning Pamba river Sabarimala Sanndidhaanam clean is their primary objective,[89] the broader vision is to spread the message of greenness and cleanliness beyond Sabarimala.[90]

Some of the salient aspects of "Punyam Poonkavanam" project includes:[91]

  1. Not using soap and oil while bathing in the holy Pamba River. No throwing any material, including clothes in the holy river.
  2. To prepare irumudikkettu without using any plastic and using only bio-degradable materials.
  3. To devote at least one hour in cleanliness activities at Sabarimala Sannidhaanam, River Pamba and surroundings as part of the pilgrimage.

Transport[edit]

Doli service in Sabarimala

The nearest railway station is Chengannur known as the Gateway of Sabarimala. Chengannur (85 kilometres (53 mi)), Kottayam (92 kilometres (57 mi)), are some of the closest accessible railway stations from Sabarimala. The nearest airports are Thiruvananthapuram International Airport (170 kilometres (110 mi)) and Cochin International Airport (160 kilometres (99 mi)). The state government has also approved the construction of a fifth airport in the Kottayam district, close to the Sabarimala shrine, on 31 December 2022.[92]

Special buses are arranged from different parts of the state to provide transportation to Kerala in anticipation of the yearly Mandala and Makaravilakku poojas performed at the temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa Swamy.[93][94]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Home | Sabarimala". sabarimala.kerala.gov.in. Retrieved 21 January 2024.
  2. ^ "Mohini – The Only Female Avatar of Lord Vishnu". Vedicfeed. 4 August 2019.
  3. ^ "The Story Of Sabarimala: Origin, Beliefs And Controversy Over Women Entry". NDTV.com. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  4. ^ "Why millions throng Sabarimala shrine". DailyBhaskar. 15 January 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Indo-Americans shocked at Sabarimala tragedy". Sify. Archived from the original on 15 May 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  6. ^ "Record collection at Sabarimala". The Hindu. 27 December 2014.
  7. ^ "Women to enter Sabarimala temple today: Weird laws against women from all over the world". India Today. 28 September 2018.
  8. ^ "Sabarimala Temple Opening Dates 2018 to 2019 – Chennaivision". Chennaivision. 1 January 2018. Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
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