Protect the Forest Environment (58)

12/01/2012 History of Lord Ayyappa

Building of multi-storeyed concrete buildings can give accommodation only to a very small section of pilgrims for comfortable stay. They spoil the very character of the environment. The problem of accommodation and catering facilities call for imaginative planning in tune with the nature of the sylvan surroundings and the planning has to be made guided by people with aesthetic outlook and spiritual perspective. Construction of cottages in the forest area without felling the trees would provide the pilgrims opportunity to live in close communion with nature maintaining the spirit of the pilgrimage. It has been pointed out that the setting up of multi-storeyed buildings providing luxuries would turn this sacred pilgrimage into a market culture inviting a large number of pilgrim-tourists who do not go through the rigours the pilgrimage demands, defeating its very purpose and spoiling the sanctity of the place.

In the forthcoming years the whole of Kerala may have to play host to the pilgrims coming to Sabarimala from many quarters of the world. As the scientific awareness of the deeper spiritual dimensions of man increases, there will be greater appreciation of the relevance and efficacy of such disciplines and pilgrimages for maintaining physical wellbeing, the development of inner resources and the expansion of consciousness. With imaginative planning the various regions of the state, particularly a large area around Sabarimala, can be suitably equipped as congenial halting centres, from where a controlled flow of pilgrims can be directed to the shrine. The co-ordinated efforts of the authorities, voluntary organisations like Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham and the pilgrims can do much in this direction.

The whole pilgrimage is intended to develop Yogic values such as a sense of brotherhood and vision of equality towards all fellow beings, reverential consideration of everything as the manifestation of the Supreme Truth, non-violence in thought and deed and compassion towards all living beings. The austerities the pilgrims observe train them to look upon other pilgrims as embodied forms of Lord Ayyappa. Therefore, co-operating with and extending help to fellow pilgrims in itself is a part of Ayyappa worship. Expressing this spirit, quite a few pilgrims can, of course, be seen at several points of the traditional route showing their regard and love by supplying biscuits, fruits and drinking water and even fanning the tired pilgrims with towels. The donkeys that bear the load are ‘Kazhutha-swami-s’ But the plight of these beasts of burden is often disturbing to any sensitive heart and a challenge to the above-mentioned values of the pilgrimage. Steps should be taken to ensure a humane treatment to these manifestations of Supreme Truth.

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