Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is the most famous and prominent among all the Sastha temples in Kerala.
The temple is situated on a hilltop (about 3000 feet above sea level) named Sabarimala in Pathanamthitta district, which is unique. The temple is open to people belonging to all religions. There is a place near the temple; east of Sannidhanam (the abode of Lord Ayyappa), dedicated to Vavar (a close friend of Lord Ayyappa) which is called Vavaru Nada, an epitome of religious harmony. Another unique aspect of this temple is that it is not open throughout the year. It is open for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja, Makaravilakku, Vishu and also during the first day of every Malayalam month.
It is said that the pilgrims have to observe celibacy for 41 days before going to Sabarimala. Pilgrims take the traditional forest routes as well as the one from Pamba which is less physically challenging to reach the temple.
Pilgrim Season – Mandala-Makaravilakku Maholtsavam
Opening of sanctum sanctorum, Nirmalyam Abhishekam
From 3:30 to 7:00 AM
From 7:30 AM
From 8:30 – 11:00 AM
Neyyabhishekam/ Using Ghee deposited in ‘Ney thoni’
Ashtabhishekham (15 nos)
From 11:00 to 11:30 AM
Closing of sanctum sanctorum
Opening of sanctum sanctorum
From 7:00 to 9:30 PM
From 9:30 PM
Harivarasanam/ Closing of sanctum sanctorum
Nilackal Govt. Hospital Helpline (Ambulance) 1298
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By Rail:- Pilgrims can reach Kottayam & Chengannur by rail and from there by road to to Pampa
By Air:- Pilgrims can reach Thiruvananthapuram or Kochi by air and from there by rail/road to Pampa.
By Road:- KSRTC has started bus services to Coimbatore, Palani and Thenkasi from Pampa for the convenience of Sabarimala pilgrims. Besides, the Government of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been given the permission to operate buses to Pampa. A chain service exists between Pampa and Nilackal base camps.
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Take rest for 5 minutes after a walk of 10 minutes during the climb.
Use the traditional path – Marakoottam, Saramkuthy, Nadapanthal – to reach Sannidhanam.
Follow the queue system to reach Pathinettampadi.
Use the Nadapanthal fly-over for return journey.
Use toilets and latrines for urination and bowel clearance.
Ascertain the prevailing crowd situation and then only proceed to Sannidhanam from Pampa.
While using Dolly, make payment only at the Devaswom counter and keep the receipt.
Subject yourself for security check at security check points.
Approach police for any help.
Inform police about any suspicious characters.
Buy edible items from licensed outlets only.
Keep Pampa, Sannidhanam and the trekking paths clean.
Park vehicles only at the allotted parking slots.
Deposit waste in waste boxes only.
Avail the facilities of medical centers and oxygen parlours, if needed.
Identification cards with address and contact numbers to be hung on the neck of children, aged and malikapurams (girls).
In case of isolation from groups / friends devotees may report at police aid posts.
Do not use mobile phones at the temple premises.
Do not smoke at Pampa, Sannidhanam and en route.
Do not consume alcohol or drugs.
Do not jump the queue.
Do not rush while in the queue.
Do not carry weapons or other explosives substances.
Do not entertain unauthorized vendors.
Do not urinate outside toilets and clear bowels outside latrines.
Do not make extra payment for any service.
Do not hesitate to approach police for any help.
Do not throw waste anywhere other than the waste bins.
Do not break coconuts on the Pathinetampadi.
Do not break coconuts anywhere other than on designated places on both sides of Pathinettampadi.
Do not kneel at Pathinetampadi while climbing the holy steps.
Do not use any path other than Nadapanthal flyover for return journey.
Do not rest anywhere at Upper Thirumuttam or Thanthrinada.
Do not use pathways for viris (ground mats) at Nadapanthal and lower Thirumuttam.
Fire crackers are prohibited
Weapons are not allowed.
Cooking Gas, Stoves etc. should not be used at Sannidhanam.
Fire if lighted should be put out immediately after use.
Subject yourself and your baggage for security check before climbing the Pathinettampadi.
Neyyabhishekam is the most important offering to Lord Ayyappa. The ghee filled coconut is used to perform this ritual. The ritual starts at 4 AM and continue till Ucha Pooja (1 PM). After performing the darsan of Lord Ayyappa and upa-prathistas, groups of Ayyappa pilgrims will make a viri (a sheet spread on the ground) under the guidance of guru swamy (the senior most pilgrim). They collect all ghee filled coconut and arrange on the viri.
After taking bath at Bhasmakkulam (pond behind the sannidhanam) the team leader, usually a guru swamy will break all ghee-filled coconuts and collect the ghee in a vessel to offer it at the sree kovil (sanctum sanctorum).
The priest after performing the Neyyabhishekam will return a portion of the ghee back to the devotee. The ghee obtained from the sree kovil is taken back as a divine prasadam. For devotees who don’t bring ghee-filled coconut, Devaswom board has arranged facility to get adiyashistam neyyu.
The ghee symbolizes the human soul and through the abhishekam of the ghee on Lord Ayyappa the soul merges with the Supreme Being. The jeevatma is ghee and the paramatma is Lord Ayyappa.
Once the ghee is removed from the coconut, then the coconut symbolizes jadam or dead body. This is the reason why the coconut is then offered in the huge aazhi or fire-place in front of the temple.
Padi Pooja is the pooja of the 18 holy steps ‘pathinettampadi’, held on select days after the floral bathing of the idol called ‘pushpabhiskeham’. The pooja is conducted in evenings and is performed by the tantri, in the presence of the melsanthi (priest). The hour-long ritual by decorating the Holy Steps with flowers and silk cloths after lighting traditional lamps on each step, concludes by performing ‘aarathi’ by the tantri.
Udayasthamana Pooja :
‘Udayasthamaya’ literally means from sunrise to sunset. Hence, it implies worship from sunrise to sunset. Udayasthamana pooja is conducted from dawn to dusk (from Nirmalyam to Athazha pooja). In addition to the nithya pooja, special poojas with Archanas and Abhishekams are conducted to obtain the blessings of the Bhagavan (presiding deity) which enables to fulfill the wishes of the devotees. Out of the total 18 poojas, 15 are done before noon and there are 45 kalasabhishekams.
Sahasra Kalasam is an offering to Hariharaputhra (Sri Dharmashastha) as per the Thantric Veda and Agama Shastras with a view to sleek blessings for the happiness of the mankind. It is the noble effort to invoke all the holy spirits utilizing all that is sacred in the form of incense, the precious and semiprecious stone, the seven seas, and the sacred rivers into the holy kalasam (sacred pot) of gold, silver, copper etc.
The rituals of Ulsava Bali begin with the sounding of Paani. Ulsava Bali is dedicated to the Bhoothaganams (associates of the presiding deity) and Paani is meant to invite the Bhoothaganams. Then begins the sprinkling of cooked raw rice (Ulsava Bali Thooval) to cover the balikallu of the Bhoothaganams around the Naalambalam and Balikkalpura by the temple tantri. When the sprinkling of the cooked rice over the Saptha Maathrukkal is completed, the Thidambu of the presiding deity is taken out of the sanctum sanctorum to enable the devotees to offer prayers. Ulsava Bali is held as part of the annual festival at the Lord Ayyappa Temple.
Puspabhishekam is the showering of flowers on Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala. The flowers and leaves that are used in Pushpabhishekam ritual are Tamara (lotus), Jamanthi (chrysanthemum) Arali, Tulsi (basel), Mulla (jasmine) and Kuvalam (bilva leaves). A devotee who wishes to perform Pushpabhishekam at Sabarimala has to book in advance. The cost of performing the Pushpabhishekam is Rs.10,000/-
Ashtabhishekam is one of the important offerings to Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala. The eight items used for Ashtabhishekam at Sabarimala are :
Tender coconut water
Sandalwood or Chandanam
Rosewater or Panineer
(Please note that Ashtabhishekam offered in Hindu Religion varies from temple to temple)
Kalabhabhishekam is a very important special pooja usually performed for the strengthening of the chaithanya of the deity. As part of kalabhabhishekam, the tantri performs the Kalabhakalasa pooja at the Nalambalam in the presence of melsanthi. Kalabhakalasabhishekam, marking the conclusion of the ritual by pouring the sandalwood paste on the idol of Lord Ayyappa, is performed during the Ucha pooja by the tantri after the procession carrying the golden urn having sandal paste for the Kalabhabhishekam around the sree kovil.
ARCHANA means ‘chanting and glorifying the Divine name’. LAK means 100,000. Therefore, LAKSHARCHANA is the name and practice of repeating in a group, the name of the Lord in the form of a Mantra.
Later, the tantri, assisted by melsanthi and some other priests performs Laksharchana at the Sannidhanam. The `Brahmakalasam’ of the laksharchana is taken in procession to the sanctum sanctorum for `abhishekam’, prior to the `uchapuja’.
Source : sabarimala.kerala.gov.in Official Website