Sabarimala Festival

Sabarimala is a Hindu pilgrimage center located in the Western Ghats mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta District, in Kerala. It is the largest yearly pilgrimage in world with an estimated 45–50 million devotees visiting every year in the state. Sabarimala is believed to be the place where the Hindu God Ayyappan meditated after killing the powerful demons, Mahishi. Sabarimala is linked to Hindu pilgrimage, mainly for men of all ages.

The Sabarimala pilgrim easily able to found as they wear black or blue dress. They do not shave till the completion of pilgrimage and smear Vibhuti or Sandal paste on their forehead. Women between the ages of 10 and 50 are not allowed to enter the temple, since the story attributed to Ayyappa prohibits the entry of the women in the menstrual age group. This is because Ayyappan is a Bramachari or someone who is a celibate. The temple is open for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja which falls approximately during November 15 to December 26, Makaravilakku or Makara Sankranti" known in the northern India which falls on January 14 "and Vishu which falls in April 14, and the first six days of each Malayalam month.

There is no clear indication as to when the pilgrimage to Sabarimala began. After the setting up of the temple, it was typically inaccessible for about three centuries. One of the kings in a later generation discovered the original path to reach Sabarimala.

The customs of the pilgrims to Sabarimala are based on some old Hindu worshiping methods; those of Shaiva or the worshiper of Lord Shiva, Shakta or the worshiper of Shakti and Vaishnava or the worshiper of Lord Vishnu. The devotees who visit the temple during the festival walk barefoot through the rough road to reach the temple. Before taking the trip the devotees fast and surrender themselves to the will of God for 40 days. They do not drink or smoke, eat selected food, sleep on the floor and stay away from women and family during this period. Away from all barriers of caste and faith they wear black dhotis and carry offerings like coconut filled with ghee, camphor and rice.

People take a dip in the river on their way to the temple. It is believed that people who take a dip in the holy waters of the river are cleansed of all sins. People also visit the Muslim God on their way to Sabarimala who is believed to be a close friend of Lord Ayyappa.

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