The Pandalam Palace and Thiruvaabharanam Procession (44)

06/01/2012 History of Lord Ayyappa

There is a centuries old tradition of adorning the idol of Lord Ayyappa on the occasion of the Makara-samkrama Pooja with some special ornaments called Thiruvaabharanam, which are taken to Sabarimala from the Pandalam palace about 90 kms away in a procession with great enthusiasm and devotional fervour. After the Pooja, the Thiruvaabharanam is brought back to the palace.

The Father-Son relationship that exists between the Pandalam dynasty and Lord Ayyappa which is celebrated in legends and deep rooted in the minds of the devotees, is kept alive even today in certain rituals and the special privileges bestowed upon the members of the royal family of Pandalam. The most noteworthy among them is the special privilege given to them to climb the Pathinettampadi, the eighteen sacred steps, without bearing the Irumudikkettu on the head. There is also a custom that the Valia Thampuraan, the eldest member of the dynasty, does not visit the shrine because of a prevailing family tradition that necessitates a son to pay obeisance to the father when he arrives. Therefore, it is a representative of the Valiaya Thampuraan who goes to Sabarimala.

Adjacent to the Pandalam palace there is a temple for Dharma Sasthawhich is known as Valiyakoikkal Dharma Sasthatemple. It is believed that the temple was built by the king of Pandalam for his personal worship, after the liberation of the ancient Sri Dharma Sastha temple of Sabarimala by Lord Ayyappa and its renaissance. The Thiruvaabharanam is usually preserved in a strong room in the palace near the Valiakoikkal Dharma Sastha temple. Every year, from the first of the Malayalam month, Vrischikam (mid-November), these ornaments, which are held in high esteem for their mystic significance, are displayed for Darsan (public viewing) at the palace on all Wednesdays and Saturdays before taking them to Sabarimala. Throughout the pilgrimage season thousands of pilgrims visit the Valiakoikkal Dharma Sasthatemple and the palace at Pandalam on their way to Sabarimala.

The Thiruvaabharanam is taken to Sabarimala on the 28th of the month Dhanu (mid-January) after Pooja-s are performed to the ornaments at the Valiakoikkal temple. When the Pooja-s are over, the ornaments are placed in three wooden boxes to be carried to Sabarimala (page 95). Then a ceremonial sword sanctified by the main priest will be handed over by the head of the Pandalam royal family to his representative who would accompany the procession. The boxes will be carried on the head by specially deputed persons. As has already been mentioned the mystic phenomenon of the auspicious appearance of Krishna Parunthu, a species of eagle, occurs during certain special rites connected with this pilgrimage. This is such a special occasion. The procession will start only after the customary sighting of the Krishna Parunthu making rounds high above the temple. The moment the bird is sighted the whole atmosphere reverberates with loud bursts of devotional chants and thunderous explosion of fire-crackers. The Thiruvaabharanam bearing pilgrims can be seen dancing in devotional ecstasy. Hundreds of black-clad pilgrims accompany the procession.

The Representative of the king of Pandalam accompanies the procession in a special palaquin. On the way, at various spots people assemble to pay their respects to the Thiruvaabharanam. The procession halts at two places, on the first day at the Ayroor Puthiyakaavu Devi Temple and on the second day at the Laha forest station, before reaching Sabarimala. As the procession reaches Pampa on the third day, the Representative of the king of Pandalam stays back and camps at Pampa for two days, before proceeding to Sabarimala on the third day, that is, on the third of the month of Makaram. When the procession, which proceeds, reaches Saramkuttiyaal, via Appachimedu and Sabaripeedam, it will be ceremoniously received with the accompaniment of traditional instrumental music and ushered to the Sannidhaanam. The Thiruvaabharanam bearers and the group of accompanying pilgrims climb the eighteen steps and they will be received by the Melshaanthi, the chief priest, who will take over the ornaments. He then enters the sanctum sanctorum to adorn the idol of the Lord with the precious ornaments.

Related Articles