The story of Sabarimala - the abode of Hariharaputra
By: Dr. P.P. Narayanaswami
Sabarimala Sri Dharma Sanstha Temple is the most pious and sacred temple of Kerala. Situated at an altitude of 914 m above the sea level, it is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa who is believed to be the union of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. According to local beliefs, Lord Parasurama enshrined the deity at the foot of Sabari hills whose reference is also found in Ramayana.
Lord Ayyappa brings together the Shaivite and Vaishnavite branches of Hinduism. Lord Ayyappa is also known as Dharma Shasta. Some scholars believe that it means Lord Buddha. There is no evidence that Lord Buddha ever visited Kerala and therefore this theory is challenged.
Sabarimala Temple Tour is strenuous and passes through the thick forests of the Sahyadri Mountains. It takes 3 days from the base of the hill to reach the temple. People visiting Sabarimala during the festival are supposed to observe strict self-discipline while on pilgrimage. A majority of the pilgrims are men who have to observe fast for forty days, celibacy, growing a beard and daily prayer rituals. Young girls also undertake the pilgrimage trip to Sabarimala.
The most auspicious day of the Sabarimala Pilgrimage is the Makara Vilakku Day somewhere around January 14th every year. Thousands of pilgrims pay their visit to the Sabarimala Temple to seek the blessings of Lord Ayyappa. One also gets the view of Makara Vilakku from Sabarimala Temple. It is a light that is visible on a nearby hill and is believed to be an indication of the presence of the divine.