Situated within the district of Pathanamthitta of Kerala, within the western Ghats lies Sabarimala, the abode of Lord Ayyappa. The temple is a vital supply of non secular wealth and is known amongst South Indians for the Sabarimala Yatra or pilgrimage. This podcast by Aravind Subramaniyam is an in depth information for anybody embarking on the yatra. 

Etymology – What Does Sabarimala Imply?

Shabari means huntress in Tamil, Malayalam and plenty of Indian languages.Mala means a hill. So it’s the hill of the huntress.The temple is called after a Yogini referred to as Shabari who was a disciple of Sage Agastya. She was in penance for a very long time, ready for the incarnation of Shasta as Manikantha – one of many manifestations of Ayyappa Swami. Happy along with her tapasya, Lord Manikantha determined to remain again for his devotees on this hill. 

Temporary Historical past of Sabarimala

Brahmanda Purana, Skanda Purana and the Brahma Purana point out Manikantha or Ayyappa Swami because the eighth incarnation of Shasta. 

Shasta was the son born out of Mahavishnu’s Mohini avatar and Paramashiva’s union. Devi gave a boon to each Mahavishnu and Paramashiva for the start of a son. Therefore Shasta was born with none garbhavasa or being pregnant in a womb.

Sh Aravind Subramaniyam at Sabarimala
Sh Aravind Subramaniyam at Sabarimala

He’s mentioned to have 8 incarnations. Within the final of those incarnations as Lord Ayyappam, he’s a Brahmachari. Shasta known as Manikantha within the eighth incarnation as he adorns a Navaratna Mala – a necklace made out of 9 most valuable gems, round his neck.

Earlier, the temple was closed all year long besides on the event of Makar Sankranti. It’s believed that the Ayyapa Swami is in meditation all year long for the individuals of Kaliyuga. He comes out for a couple of days throughout the event to bless his devotees.

Sabarimala Temple

Sabarimala, also referred to as Sabarigiri, is situated within the Sahyadri ranges of the Western Ghats. Though there’s a debate on the situation of Kishkindha being in Karnataka or Kerala, this area is also referred to as Kishkinda as a result of presence of river Pampa.

Sabarimala Temple
Sabarimala Temple

The primary temple is surrounded by 18 hills. Within the middle of the hills lies the Mahayogapeetham the place the garbhagriha or the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is situated. That is also referred to as Matanga Vana as it’s the area the place Matanga Maharshi carried out penance. 

The prescribed path to Sabarimala, in response to the Puranas, will be embarked by a devotee who has taken an oath of 45 days. Throughout lately of the vrata or resolve, the devotee is meant to conduct a prescribed set of rites and ceremonies whereas following strict Brahmacharya. This consists of sleeping on the ground, consuming easy meals, japa and celibacy.

Pilgrms in front of the 18 steps of temple
Pilgrms in entrance of the 18 steps of temple

The trail to Sabarimala is a trek by way of the river Pampa and the  Neela Parvata.  Reaching Sabari Peetham and climbing the holy 18 steps generally known as Tatva Shobhanam to lastly attain the temple and search the grace of Lord Ayyappa. 

The temple is open all through November, December and January for Mandala pooja and closes a couple of days after Sankranti. These days, the temple is opened up for the primary 5 days of each Tamil or Malayalam month. One can go to the temple with out taking the Vrata however will be unable to obtain the grace of Lord Ayyappa. 

Guidelines for the pilgrimage

All the principles for the pilgrimage are talked about within the Puranas. These guidelines have to be adopted correctly to be able to full the pilgrimage. The yatra to Sabarimala is to attain Moksha or liberation from the cycle of start and loss of life.

Pilgrim Path to Sabarimala
Pilgrim Path to Sabarimala

Males of all ages and ladies beneath age 10 and above 50 are permitted to embark on this pilgrimage. 

The Vrata is for a interval of 45 to 48 days previous to the pilgrimage, though devotees can at all times take an extended oath. That is taken within the month of November, throughout the competition of Karthigai or Kartik Purnima. Throughout this time, the bhoomi pooja of this temple is claimed to have occurred. So, it’s an auspicious time to take the vrata.

Earlier than the vrata is taken, one should search the tutelage of a Guru. Solely when accepted by the Guru can a person start the journey for the pilgrimage. 


Brahmacharya must be strictly noticed. The devotee is meant to eat solely as soon as a day and has to carry out pooja 3 instances a day. Vrata mala – a tulsi mala, given by the Guruswamy must be worn all through the interval of the Vritham.

One has to wash twice a day and has to sleep on the ground. Above all, the devotee should attain a non secular situation wherein he/she sees God in all. Though Sabarimala pilgrims desire to put on black garments for his or her pilgrimage, there isn’t a point out of such a costume code within the Puranas. 


Irumudi is a vital a part of the pilgrimage. It’s a bag with two slots. The one in entrance is to retailer choices for the Swami and the slot behind is for the devotee or the pilgrim. Amongst different issues wanted to carry out Abhishekam, ghee is presumably essentially the most sacred of all. On the final day of the Vrata, ghee is poured right into a coconut for the aim of Abhisheka and is sealed shut. On reaching the temple, this coconut is damaged and the ghee is obtainable to the lord. 

Ghee symbolises the soul. Milk, curd, butter and different dairy merchandise are perishable, ghee stays eternally. Ghee symbolizes the everlasting existence of the soul, transferring from one perishable physique to a different, till it achieves Moksha. Offering ghee throughout abhishekam is equal to Aatma Samarpanam, full give up. 

The Yatra

There are two routes, one conventional and longer and the opposite shorter.

Most individuals observe the older, longer path to Sabarimala which covers a distance of 40 miles. It takes round 5 to six days to achieve the vacation spot. The shorter path is about 5km and begins from river Pampa. This path is open all year long to be able to conduct poojas. Lengthy route is just open throughout the month of December. 

Hearken to the Detours Podcast with Aravind Subramaniyam Ji for an in depth understanding of the Sabriamala Yatra and its non secular profit. 

All photographs courtesy Aravind ji. 


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