The Pithrubali at Pampa (31)

28/12/2011 History of Lord Ayyappa

On reaching Pampa, the pilgrims, after setting their camps, take a holy dip in the river, Pampa. Many of them perform the rite Pithrubali, the propitiatory rites for the ancestors, expressing their love and regard for those who had passed away. There are specially trained priests who guide the pilgrims to perform the rites. It is mentioned in the Ramayana that Sri Rama performed Pithrubali on the banks of Pampa. The place also gained special importance in this respect after Ayyappa performed the rites for the soldiers, who were killed in the battle against Udayanan and his hordes.

Pampaa-sadya and Pampaa-vilakku

An important function which the pilgrims, who come in groups, arrange here is the ritualistic feast called Pampaa-sadya, a sumptuous feast commemorating the feast Ayyappa and his soldiers arranged at the banks of Pampa to celebrate the liberation of Sabarimala temple. The pilgrims believe that there will be the presence and participation of Lord Ayyappa as an unseen guest in the feast.

There is a festival of light on the banks of Pampa a day before the most important Makara-samkrama Pooja. This also commemorates the victory celebration on the banks of Pampa conducted after the defeat of Udayanan. Innumerable camps of pilgrims are illuminated with oil lamps and candles on this occasion. Special floats are made, and placing well-lit lamps in them, they are set afloat in the river. The grand spectacle of thousands of such floats moving along the river will linger long in the memory. Besides this, the rhythmic sounds from the traditional musical instruments and the loud chanting of ‘Swamiye saranam Ayyappa’ impart an ethereal atmosphere to the whole scene.

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