Monday, January 24, 2011


The Mandala Makaravilakku Festival of Sabarimala  Temple of 2010-2011 was comparatively better this year with out much complaints from pilgrims.We have to admit that it was remarkably well organised in all aspects
including security and traffic control.When millions of tourists concentrate on a particular spot
from various states in India for two months; that also on an inhabited hilly forest region situated  more than 3 kms above sea level, probems can happen.We should not blame the authorities.It was all  well done  till the makara Sankanti Pooja and the well wishers of Sabarimala and the Organisersof the festival including Devaswom Board would have  felt relief that the festival was a grand success.When  around 10'O Clock at night on 14th Jan  news poured in that a mishap happened at Pulmed near Vandiperiyar in Idukki District in which several Pilgrims of Sabarimala died.. Everybody who were watching T.V.  was really shocked.
The next day on 15th Jan 2011 it was clarified that at   Pulmedu  a place which is approximately 8km from Sabarimala through the forest path this tragedy happened in which by  stampede 102 pilgrims lost their life.
The pulmedu which is also a forest region from where on the top of the hill which is grassy area and very suitable to view the Makara Jyothi more than 100,000 spectators were gathered.The event was  finished at 7.15P.M  and
everybody rushed to trek down the hill fast.The hilly passage was only 10' wide and unnecessary constriction was created which resulted in falling down of many devotees and stampede and altogether utter confusion and fuss and panic  was resulted.The exorbitant rush of pilgrims was expected at that place but nobody thought that such a mishap would happen..Earlier once on a makara Sankranti day a tragedy happened near Pampa basin  at a place known as hill top.But this year a record number of 102 Pilgrims were dead.The ex-gratia  amount declared to the victim's families would not reduce their pain and loss but what else can the government do in such a situation..
We all mourn  this incident and pray for the departed souls to rest in peace.
Now it has turned to be a matter of debate that whether the makara jyothi is real or fake.Nair Service Society
clearly stated that  apart from the Celestial Star the Sacred Flame which is witnessed at Ponnambalamedu is human madeThis was published in yesterday's news Papers..In this 21st centuary everybody can understand that it is artificial,but the splendent star which
appears on the eastern horizon above ponnambalamedu is a miracle and divine.Actually that star is the Makara jyothi  which is an Aarti of the Celestial beings to Lord Ayyappa.The tribals who lived on ponnambalamedu hill lighted Aarati at the ruins of a Sastha Temple which is existing  there which some beleives that  it is the  moolasthanam of Sabarimala temple.(Origin)Now no tribals are living there but the Aarati  may be lighted by  somebody else.
In this instance we have to think about some facts.No hype propaganda was given by any authority at any time that at Ponnambalamdu  a Celestial flame is being observed.Everybody knows very well that a star is viewed at noon  at the time of Alangattu group's pettah thullal and a Garuda Bird(Kite) comes at the time  of Ambalapuzha group's pettah thullal.The Garuda Bird accompanies the procession from Pandalam to Sabarimala as if it is  a  guard or  Protector for full three days is not a myth but a true fact.More over the appearance of the Lucent  Star above Ponnambalamedu every year on Sankranti day itself is a reality which is happening  through centuries.
On the Sankranti Day when the Ornament Boxes reaches Sabarimala Temple and Aarati is conducted inside the temple only very few people will get chance to witness the Aarati of ornaments adorned Ayyappa. But on that particular day the total number of devotees present at Sannidhanam(Sabarimala temple area) will be higher than any other day during that season.Everybody's wish is to witness the Deity fully adorned and to view the Aarati also..But all of them knows very well that it is impossible since the temple can accommodate a few people only.So at the time of Aarati in the temple the appearance of a bright Celestial Star which was not there on the previous day and also the flame
visible at ponnambalamedu thrills their heart and literally the devotees feel that they are witnessing the
Aarati inside the temple itself.They consider it as Deeparadhana(Worship using oil lamps and Camphor) inside the Ayyappa Temple and values like that.So if it is published that the flame seen at Ponnambalamedu is man made no devotee will be bothered about that or minimize the importance of Sabarimala Pilgrimage.
There are 18 steps in front of Sabarimala Temple which are 6'long and 18" wide.It is actually granite but later was covered by Pancha loha(a compound of five metals) and now covered by gold.The first 5 steps denotes 5 senses (relating to eyes,ears,nose,toungeand skin),next 8 steps denotes Ashta ragas(our Interests in life)The next three are of  three gunas(Tathwa,Rajatha and Thamoguna-These are all of much philosophical) and finally 2 are ignorance and knowledgeWe can realize God by crossing all these steps only is an inner meaning.Some says it denotes 18 puranas and some says it denotes 18 entities of 18 mountains surrounding Sabarimala.Devotees break a coconut before stepping on those sacred steps and entering the temple.We,
 on breakage of  that coconut breaks our pride itself.It is a symbolic act
On either side of the holy steps are abodes of Kadutha swamy and Karappu Swamy who were Officers
in  Lord Ayyappa's army.Vavar Swamy who was his friend and ally got an Abode opposite to his shrine itself.There is no Deity there but his sword
is still there by which it is evident that he was an eminent warrior.A descendant of his family will be present at Sabarimala temple to help devotees to perform reverence to Vavar Swamy.Green pepper and sandal wood paste  is mainly offered there.
On the left side of Ayyappa Shrine is Malikapurathamma Devi's Shrine.This goddess is considered as Durga Devi and pooja rituals are performed as according to that.But legends are that she was Mahishi, the Demoness whom Ayyappa killed.She became a demoness as a curse and when lord Ayyappa killed her she transformed in to her original beautiful entity and requested Ayyappa to marry her.To console her Ayyappa made
an agreement that he would marry her if no new Ayyappa Pilgrim come to Sabarimala in a Particular year.
(New Pilgrims are called Kanni Ayyappans and they carry a small wooden arrow with them  which they deposit at a spot known as Saramkuthy near the Ayyappa Temple as a custom and tradition)..Every year by seeing the thousands of arrows  heaped there any body can understand that there was a flow of Kanni ayyappans(New Pilgrims)
The second legend is that Pandalam Principality Prince Ayyappa stayed and learned martial arts and yoga at  a Kalari Center (Martial Arts
and Archery Training Center) which was at Cherthala in Alleppey District and the Guru, who was the Master of Martial Arts was  Kalari Panicker.He had a daughter by name Leela who was deeply interested and impressed about Ayyappa.She tried her level best to attract his attention and attain his love but Ayyappa sought eternal celibacy only.Ayyappa felt it bad to object her entreated request and the rest of the story is as stated earlier like he made a treaty that he would marry her if no  new pilgrim come to Sabarimala in a particular year.
Any how two days prior to Makara Sankranti Day her Sanctum will be beautifully decorated like a Bride's
residence.Devotees coming to Sabarimala on those days will bring Silk Sarees,Colourful Dresses,Make-up
materials including talcum powder,kumkum,eyeliner,muscara,perfumes sandal wood paste,rose water,Gold Ornaments in different varieties such as necklaces,
gold chains,bangles,ear rings,etc etc in plenty and some others will bring rice,vegetables,fruits,jaggery,provisions etc etc.The Deity will be beautifully adorned with best dresses  and ornaments and make up given like a real Bride.Her temple will  get  ready as if for a marriage ceremony to take place as according to Indian Style.More over on Makara Sankanti Day out of the three ornament boxes which arrives  from Pandalam Palace two are for Malikappuram Devi and only one to Lord Ayyappa.When she is adorned with that  traditional ornaments also practically she will be converted to marvelous Beauty Princess.At around 9 P.M she will be taken out  in a procession on an elephant to Ayyappa shrine near the 18  sacred steps.This ezhunellathu(procession) will be performed in a splendid manner.This is repeated on the next day also when some body in the group asks loudly Kanny Ayyappan Vannittundo?(Which means any new pil grim came that season).From Ayyappa Temple some body will answer go and check at Saramkuthi.She will go back  to her abode on  that day but  the following day a spectacular procession will be held to Saramkuthi with full galore of colourful items including coloured umbrellas and  with music;drum beats dance and so on.When they reach Saramkuthy she understands that thousands of new pilgrims came that season also  by  a glance of the heap of arrows lying there.Her procession will return with  no pageantry, with folded umbrellas and no drum beats and music,completely gloomy with no lights also. For spectators also this will  feel as a  sorrowful scene.The same scenes and procession as above will be repeated for another two more days.In her agony and out of countenance mood Malikapurathamma returns to her abode hoping for the best next year when she expects no new comers would come to Sabarimala and she might  be able to marry Ayyappa.We need not investigate these stories and these cults but Conformists believes that God has no objection for us to practice these cults and believes they even enjoys it even though some of them are silly
.The supreme priests of Sabarimala temple(Thantri) belongs to Thazhaman Madhom, one of the eminent Thantri family in Kerala which is situated at Chengannur.
The love and affection towards  Lord Ayyappa by devotees is immense.For example let us see this sarana mantra or slogan"Swarna Simhasanathil irunnu velli simhasanathil thrikkaloonni Kasi Rammeswaram Pandi Malayalam Adakki Vazhum Nammude Akhilanda Kodi Brahmanda Nayakan Anatha rakshakan Asritha valsalan Villali Veeran Veera Mani Kandan Hari Hara Suthan Aananda Chithan Ayyan Ayyappa Swami Njangalkkennum Saranamayi Varenam Ponnu Swamiye Saranam- Saranam Ayyappa Saranam Ayyappa Saranam Ayyappa Swamiye Saranam"(To be brief the meaning of this slogan is that the Creator,owner and ruler of this Universe Who is Swamy Ayyappan who is the son of Lord Siva and Vishnu Kindly Bless and Help us and be our saviour always.He is praised indicating all our love and affection)
From all major Bus Depots in Kerala Buses are available to Pampa and Erumeli also during the season.Special trains are also arranged to Kerala during the season from other states.CHENGANNUR is the
nearest railway station to Sabarimala and Pampa and large number of buses ply between Pampa and Chengannur.Buses to Pampa will be available from  Chengannur Railway Station and Bus Station during the season.From Pathanamthitta,Kottayam,Kottarakkara,Trivandrum and Ernakulam also enough buses are avaiable.
Tail Piece

Nobody can put off or fade out Lord Ayyappa and  the Glorious faith of Jyothi which has kindled in the hearts of several million devotees..Let  the sacred flame which is seen at Ponnambalamedu be  man made or celestial,it makes no difference for a real devotee of Ayyappa Swamy.The number of devotees  increases every year and the authorities has to accept new practical ideas perspicaciously for a safe pilgrimage.Round the year pilgrimage may  also be considered.More forest areas may  need to be acquired for further developments.

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