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Vavar (pronounced Vaa-var= "vav-vindavar")meaning vavu = "moon" vindavar= "who splits", also known as Vavaraswami. There is a shrine dedicated to Vavaraswami at Sabarimala, as well as Varaswamis mosque at Erumely next to an Ayyappa temple. The devotion of Vavaraswami to Ayyappan and the key role that the Islamic Masjid has in the Ayyappa Pilgrimage, highlights the communal harmony in Kerala. The devotion of Vavaraswami also highlights the relevance of Ayyappa devotion for members of all faiths, and the equality shown to all, whether they are Muslims, Hindus or Christians.


There are many legends about Vavar and his association with Ayyappa. Some believe that Vavar was a Muslim saint who migrated from Arabia to India with the intention of spreading Islam. Others suggest that he was a warrior who reached the shore of Kerala as a pirate in a ship to loot and plunder. During his encounter with Lord Ayyappa, he was defeated. Impressed by the youth's valour, Vavar became close associate of Lord Ayyappa and helped him in the wars in the mountainous region. As time passed, Vavar too became an ardent devotee of Ayyappa just like Kaduthaswami and came to be known as Vavar swami. The old sword on the wall of the Vavar shrine symbolises the eminence of Vavar as a great warrior. It is believed that the Lord Ayyappa himself instructed the King of Pandala Desam to build a mosque for Vavar at Erumely in Kottayam District. Sabarimala shrine is about 50 km away, deep in the Forest in Pathanamthitta Association

Erumely is the gateway to Sabarimala, the hillock shrine of Lord Ayyappa. This place is very famous for 'Pettathullal', a kind of mass spiritual dance perform by Ayyappa devotees. Pettathullal is performed in the Makaravilaku season, i.e., from mid December to mid January every year to commemorate the annihilation of a 'Mahishi' by Lord Ayyappa.

It is believed that the aim of the incarnation of Lord Dharmasasta as son of Shiva and Vishnu was the annihilation of the Rakshasi Mahishi. Since Ayyappa is considered as a human incarnation of Dharmasasta, Erumenly is an important place of worship for Ayyappa devotees.

After killing the Mahishi at Erumely, Dharmasastha performed a dance on her dead body. In order to commemorate this event, the devotees perform the ritual called pettathullal in Erumely.[1]

The barefooted devotees perform this dance by wearing black dhotis, and garnishing their body with different colour powders and flowers and carrying toy bows,arrows and shrub branches and chanting the slogan "Ayyappa-thin-thakathom, Swami-thin-thakathom"

The place name Erumely is believed to have been derived from the word 'Eruma kolli' fence formed with the help of buffaloes, which later was transformed to Erumely.

En route the pilgrimage to Sabarimala during the makaravilakku season almost all of the Ayyappa devotees will come to Erumely and perform the ritual. Pettathullal starts from the small temple situated at the heart of Erumely town known as 'Kochambalam'. From there the dance procession advance to the Muslim mosque called 'Vavar palli' opposite to Kochambalam and the devotees worship 'Vavarswamy'.

Finally the procession ends up at Dharmasastha temple known as 'Valliyambalam'.


There is a shrine dedicated to Vavar in Sabarimala next to the main temple. As per Islamic teachings there is no idol, but just a carved stone slab symbolises the deity of Vavar. A green coloured silk cloth is hung across one of the three walls. The fourth side is open. An old sword is also kept near the wall. The main offering to Vavar is black pepper. A Muslim priest still performs the rituals today as he was a Muslim.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Indian festival that brings Hindus and Muslims together, by William Dalrymple, the Guardian, March 27, 2010, [1]