A Symbolic Ritual (40)

06/01/2012 History of Lord Ayyappa

Authored by Sri. Srikanth and C.V. Manoj

On one of these days of the festival, there is an interesting ritual potent with great symbolic content. This is the ritual of taking in procession the Uthsava-moorthi of Goddess Maalikappurath-amma up to the Saramkuthiyaal. It is supposed that she is going there to see whether any Kanni-Ayyappa-s, the first time pilgrims are arriving that year also. There is a figurative story connected with this ritual. According to this legend, Goddess Malikappurath-amma is yearning to marry Lord Ayyappa. But being a Naishtika Brahmachaari, an eternal celibate, Ayyappa is evading Her plea by promising Her that whensoever a time comes that the Kanni-Ayyappa-s cease to arrive, he would marry Her. And every year she goes to Saramkuthiyaal to see whether there are new arrows placed there, which Kanni-Ayyappa-s do. And on seeing the arrows she returns dejected to Her abode.

Despite the mundane nature, this story and the ritual, like many such legends related to the spiritual vision of India, conveys symbolically a philosophical message. Sri Ayyappa represents Thaaraka Brahman, the liberating aspect of the Supreme Reality, Brahman. The all-pervading Divine Energy of Brahman that causes the creation, maintenance and dissolution is the Divine Mother, represented in Sabarimala as the Maalikappurath-amma. Although the supremely auspicious Brahman (Siva) and its Creative Energy (Sakthi) are one and the same, as long as there is the phenomena of creation, maintenance and dissolution, they will be apparently in a separated condition having two polarities. The conditioned Jeevaathma, the individual soul, is ever on a spiritual journey to re-establish its identity with the unconditioned Brahman. Individual souls will keep on emerging and will be in this pilgrimage for spiritual liberation whenever these apparent dual polarities of Brahman keep on maintaining the magic of time and space. It is this play of the apparently separated state of Divine Consciousness and Divine Energy that is represented by this ritual of Goddess Maalikappurath-amma remaining away from Lord Ayyappa till the individual souls, represented by the Kanni-Ayyappa-s, keep on seeking liberation.

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