25/10/2011 Journey to Sabarimala

Sannidhanam is the central shrine of the Sabarimala temple complex and seats the deity Ayyappan. Mel Shanti (chief priest) of Sabarimala performs the rituals and ceremony to please Ayyappan in this shrine. With an overwhelming sense of fulfillment ,the pilgrim speds up his pace and beholds from a distance from a distance the eighteen sacred steps,the shrine and  the golden flag-staff. A divine thrill overwhelms his very being. The temple is located on a hillock in the midst of a vast valley surrounded on all sides by to the mountain ranges covered with lush tropical forests. Originally made of rock the Sannidhanam is now gold-plated and has intricate designs on its outer walls. Climbing the Sacred steps ,the pilgrim reaches the focusing point of is 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 Kaarhikeya 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 reprersentative of the  kingof Pandalam takes rest on his arrival in sabarimal .

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 a 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 splenderous idol of Lord Ayyappa ,by the libation of it with the ghee containe in the Nei-abhishekam . As we have discusse din detail in connection with the Kettunira ceremony 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 takenout from it .He breaks the coconut and drains out the ghee into a vessel . Carrying this vessels ,he joins a separate queue meant foe 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 Prasadam. 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 ,which 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 nxt occasion for the austerities and pilgrimage ,which is in fact ,a voyage into the realm or beauty and bliss of the Reality within,Symbolised by the spiritually splendorous form of Lord Ayyappa showing the Chinmudra sign symbolizing the basic oneness of the individual being and the Supreme Reality.

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