The Significance of the Nei-thenga (20)

23/12/2011 History of Lord Ayyappa

The Nei-thenga, the ghee-filled coconut, the most important offering for the Lord, is kept carefully inside the front compartment. The ghee within signifies that the Jeevathma, the individual soul, which is essentially free, as signified by the fluidity of the ghee, is subjected to certain conditioned states by the mind and body, as symbolised by the kernel and the shell of the coconut. On reaching the shrine and after prayer before the Lord and the accompanying Deities, the first act of the pilgrim is breaking the Nei-thenga and collecting the ghee in a vessel to offer it for libation on the idol of Lord Ayyappa. This symbolises the culmination of man’s spiritual evolution which breaks his limitations and expands him to be one with Supreme Reality.

It may be specially noted that the coconuts intended to be broken at certain holy spots are kept along with the provisions for bodily existence, in the rear compartment of the Irumudikettu. The breaking of these coconuts symbolically represent the breaking of the conditioning physical and psychological knots, mentioned in the science of Yoga as causing the limitations in human consciousness.

When the Kettunira is over, the Irumudikettu will be a compact package that can be conveniently carried over the head and the sacred package is handled with great reverence. Before taking the Irumudikettu on the head, there is a function called Sarva-praayaschitha, in which the pilgrim prays to the Lord for forgiveness for all wrongs and lapses he has committed knowingly or unknowingly during the period of austerities. He prays for Lord’s Grace for an unhampered pilgrimage, through dense forests and mountain peaks inhabited by wild beasts, till he climbs the 18 steps of the temple for the blissful vision of the Lord’s glorious idol emanating divine splendour. He also prays for constant guidance in leading a life of righteousness and spiritual expansion even after his return.

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