Sannidhaanam, the Divine Presence (36)

06/01/2012 History of Lord Ayyappa

Climbing the Sacred steps, the pilgrim reaches the focussing point of his austerities, the very goal of his pilgrimage – the Presence. He stands immersed in Bliss in the glorious Presence of Lord Ayyappa vibrant with Divine Grace. The doors within open to Eternity and the reassuring Grace Divine, which makes him more free, harmonious and peaceful.

Now the pilgrim moves towards the shrine of Lord Ganesha, known as Kannimoola Ganapathi and the shrine of Lord Kaarthikeya, for worship. Then he proceeds southwards to worship the Divine Mother, Maalikappurath-amma, whose shrine is located a little away towards the left side of Lord Ayyappa’s shrine. The main offering here is the rolling of the coconut around the shrine. Behind the shrine of Maalikappurath-amma, a little away towards the east is a structure called Manimandapam, where the representative of the king of Pandalam takes rest on his arrival in Sabarimala. Close to it are the seats of the Deities, Kochu Kadutha Swami and Karuppa Swami. There are also places of worship of the Divine Serpents and the nine Planetary Deities.

The shrine of Valia Kadutha Swamy is on the left side near the base of the 18 steps and the shrine of Vavar Swami is a little away facing the 18 steps. Here a Muslim priest gives Prasad to the pilgrims.

After the worship, the pilgrim prepares for a symbolic pouring of his love and his very being into the Supreme Source of all existence, represented by the splendrous idol of Lord Ayyappa, by the libation of it with the ghee contained in the Nei-thenga that he has brought. This is called Nei-abhishekam. As we have discussed in detail in connection with the Kettunira ceremony (page-49) the Nei-thenga involves profound inner significance.

The pilgrim settles at a convenient place in the sacred precincts and opens the Irumudikettu. The coconut filled with ghee is taken out from it. He breaks the coconut and drains out the ghee into a vessel. Carrying this vessel, he joins a separate queue meant for Neyyabhishekam. (He has to take a special coupon for this purpose from the counter). He hands over the vessel to a priest. After the Abhishekam, the priest gives him back the offered ghee as the Prasaadam.

The spiritual disciplines during the austerities, the journey through mountain terrains breathing fresh air and the mind absorbed in thoughts on the Lord, reinforces the whole being of the pilgrim. The experience gives him a deeper vision about life. And if he intensifies this awakening through further spiritual expansion, it will bring about profound evolutionary transformation of life. Every pilgrim will certainly gain a cultural and spiritual refinement, whcih may of course, vary with different individuals according to the range of receptivity.

It is the personal experience that an earnest pilgrim greatly cherishes. For many, the pilgrimage is a lessening of mental stress, a healing touch, a rejuvenation and an inner transformation. The feeling of lestasy and spiritual elevation makes the pilgrim, despite the hardships, to look forward for the next occasion for austerities and pilgrimage, which is, in fact, a voyage into the realm or beauty and bliss of the Reality within, symbolised by the spiritually splendrous form of Lord Ayyappa showing the Chinmudra sign symbolising the basic oneness of the individual being and the Suprem Reality.

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