Sabarimala Trip/Yatra Experience

Good Detailed Sabarimala Trip/Yatra in India from a friend of Alli Sukumaran Mama – can learn about places on the way to Sabari Mala.

Sabarimala Trip – 4 Dec 2012


1 Dec 2012 Saturday – Mumbai to Palakkad

2 Dec 2012 Sunday – Reached Palakkad at 4.15PM.  Kettunira in Sivan Kovil Tharekkad. Completed the Kettunira by 7 PM. Worshipped Lord Vigneswara, offered coconut (Eruthenga) and left for Chottanikkara. Reached Chottankkara by 11PM.

Before the starting of kettunira, Guruswamy puts the ‘mala’ on the neck of the Bhaktan..  Then he becomes Ayyappan.. Kettunira is mainly the preparation of Irumudi that is to be carried to Sabarimala.. It is very sacred and has to be carried on our head, definitely  while climbing the Pathinettam Padi.. Once the Irumudi is prepared it should not be kept on the ground.. It should be kept on a folded towel, cloth or bed sheet during our travel.. These cloth or bedsheet act as a cushion for our head and also to cover the irumudi to prevent it from getting contaminated.. In olden days the contents in Irumudi used to be different from the present day Irumudi..  It consists of two bags –  the front Mudi and back Mudi and together is called as Irumudi. Regarding KettuNira, the Front Mudi, is meant for Ayyappan and the back Mudi is for ourselves. Front Mudi basically contains everything we need once we reach the temple. The Most sacred item is the Mudra..  Mudra is a sealed coconut in which molten cow’s ghee is poured and tightly sealed so that it does not leak out while travelling.. The coconut’s eye is opened and the water is poured out.. The ghee is poured in to the coconut by the Ayyappan who is going to carry the irumudi to Sabarimala.. Guruswamy who guides the Ayyappas close the coconut with a  tight fittng stopper made of rubber or cork Then he seals the coconut with a wet papad and then a red cloth is  tightly pasted on the Mudra.. The mudra is placed in the front mudi and then our relatives and  other people who have gathered to witness kettunira put kanikkai alongwith three handful of rice into the front bag.. Guruswamy tightly ties the front bag with a rope, ribbon or twine and mark with red tilakam..  Other items are four Coconuts that we need to break at Erumeli / Pampa Ganapathy,at Sabari Peetam, at Padinettaam Padi and one while climbing down after darshan at Padinettaam Padi. Then the blouse piece, turmeric powder, kum kum, incense sticks that we need for Pooja at Malikappuram kovil. Then Off-course the rice that we need to utilize for Annadanam at the Shrine for Ayyappa Bhakthas.

The back Mudi contains everything that we need on our way .. In those days, it used to take a month or more to complete Sabarimala Yathra. So, it contained everything we needed on the way like, rice, spices etc. and some people used to carry even vessels if it were a large group. The reason that we carry it on our head is to mark what Ayyappan did on his way to kill Mahishi. When Pandalam Raja gave him the bundle of things that contained the contents of the Back Mudi, he placed tham on his head and left. We just mark that when we place Irumudi in hour head.

The present day irumudi is slightly different.. Since we get food items and other personal items for our use during travel readily from hotels etc. the items in the back mudi is devoid of the things that were kept in olden days.. In the back mudi also items for Lord, Ganapathy and Malikappuram are kept like rice for annadhanam, pori, manjal, kumkumam, red cloth etc. are kept and then tied with a rope.. Once the irumudi is ready Guruswami places it on the head of the Ayyappan..
The sacred mudra is considered as Human body (coconut) and soul (ghee).. After reaching the shrine we break open the coconut and collects the frozen ghee in a vessel.. When we burn the coconut after removing the ghee  we shelves out all our worldly desires and when the ghee is poured on the Lord our soul merges with Lord Ayyappa and get relieved of all our sins..

We were 7 in our group:

  1. Kannan – Guruswamy
  2. Hari
  3. Murali
  4. Manoj
  5. Nikhil- Manoj’s son
  6. Sivan &
  7. P.S.Krishnan

The following temples were visited by us on our way to Sabarimala :

  • Chottanikkara Bhagavathy
  • Vaikom Mahadeva Temple
  • Kaduthuruththi mahadeva Temple
  • Malliyoor Ganapathy
  • Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple
  • Kidangoor Subramania Swamy
  • Manarcadu Devi
  • Kumaranallur Devi
  • Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple
  • Chenganoor Mahadeva Temple
  • Aranmula Parthasarathy
  • Thodupuzha Sri Krishna Temple (while returning)

3 Dec 2012 Monday – Got up at 3 AM , finished bath and Started from room at 4 AM. Visited Chottanikkara temple and proceeded to Vaikkom.

Reached Vaikom Mahadeva temple by 7 AM.. After Darshan proceeded to Kaduthuruthi Mahadeva temple.. Finished darshan and went to Malliyoor Ganapathy temple.. Completing the worship here went to Ettumanoor Mahadeva temple.. Vaikom, Kaduthuruthi and Ettumanoor lingas are brought by the demon Khara from Chidambaram .. He was holding one lingam each in his hands and the third one he was holding by his teeth..  He did the pratishta of One  at Vaikom, the second one which he was holding by his teeth at Kaduthuruthi and the third one at Ettumanoor..  To get an opportunity to worship at all these three places on the same day is considered to be very good and we were lucky to visit these three place on Monday, 3 Dec 2012 and get Lord Siva’s blessings.

From Ettumanoor we went to Kidangoor Subramania Swamy temple and then to Manarcadu Bhagavathy temple.. By the time it was 11AM.. From there we went to Kumaranalloor Devi temple.. When we came out from this temple the time was 12 Noon.. On enquiring we came to know that Thirunakkara Mahadeva temple remains open till 12.30PM.. We rushed to Thirunakkara and had darshan there also.  Then we proceeded to our hotel at Patanamthitta.. We reached there at 1.30PM, kept our luggage in our rooms and went for our food..  After taking rest for 2 hours we decided to go to Chenganoor Mahadeva temple and Aranmula Parthasarathy temple.. We finished worship in Chenganoor by 7PM and went to Aranmula.. We had darshan of Parthasarathy and then went to the shop to buy Aranmula kannadi.. The Keezhsanthi at Parthasarathy temple guided us to a shop where they make the kannadi for generations.. There after seeing different models of kannadi the shopkeeper took us to the place where they make the kannadi.. Then we place order for 3 kannadis and gave advance.. Later order for one more piece was given.. As promised, they couriered the 4 pieces (one to Palakkad address and three to Mumbai address) promptly.. After that we had Tiffin and went to our hotel room..

4 Dec 2012 Tuesday – Next day, 4 Dec 2012 we got up at 3 AM and had bath and were ready to proceed to Pampa.. Our vehicle left Pathanamthitta at 4.30 AM and we reached Pampa at 6 AM. We were given parking place at Nilakkal which was 23 Kms away from Pampa.. After making arrangement for parking the vehicle at Pampa itself we had tea at a shop..  We crossed holy Pampa bridge and started moving toward Sabarimala.

We had done virtual queue booking in advance and had taken the print out of each one of our passes separately.. The time allotted for us at Pampa was 6.00AM – 7.00AM.. Before starting our hiking, we have to complete the formalities with the police authorities. We stood in the queue and got our virtual queue passes verified by police.. They checked our bar coded documents and time allotted to us.. After completing the ID verification we worshipped Lord Vigneswara – Pampa Gabnapathy , offered coconut (Eruthenga) and started climbing.

Sabarimala is 950 / 1000 meters above sea level and last 4 to 5 Kms we need to cover by foot only.. The hills were steep and the climbing was quite difficult. The path was very rough with sharp stones and pebbles hurting our feet..  We decided to climb slowly with uniform pace. All Ayyappas were sweating profusely. Many people, who were obese, had problems of palpitation and gasping for breath along with sweating. Youngsters and slim built people were sweating only. One of our group member opted for “Dholi”- 4 people would carry the person on a bamboo chair to the top and back to Pampa. The rate was around Rs.3000/-.  Even though breathing difficulties were not experienced by our group people we needed rest for few minutes occasionally. We halted at 4 or 5 places for few minutes and started climbing again. Then came the most difficult leg of our trip; Neelimala climbing. On the way new comers – Kanni Ayyappas- offer arrow at Saramkuththi. This indicates that a Kanni Ayyapan has visited Sabarimala and the wedding of Malikapuaraththu Amma with Lord gets delayed by one more year. Once we climbed Neelimala our difficult task was almost over. The rest of the trip was on almost plain level which we covered and reached the Nadapandal. Here before touching the Sannidhanam we had to wait for one hour in the virtual queue. Others who had not opted for virtual queue had to wait for 8 – 10 hours before entering the Sannidhanam. Here again the police check up and verification of ID proof were conducted. The police allow the people to climb the Pathinettam padi as per the time allotted to us. It was between 8.30 and 9.30 AM for our group.  By this way they can control the flow of people and also control the maximum people, to some extent, on the top of Sabarimala for safety and security reasons. Later we climbed the steps to reach the top of sabarimala. Originally the 18 holy steps at Sabarimala are made granite blocks and in 1985 they were covered with gold.. They are six feet wide and quite steep.. The importance of Pathinettampadi is as follows:  The first 5 steps signify the five indriyas or the senses of eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin..  Following 8 steps signify the ashtaragas of tatwa, kama, krodha, moha, lobha, madha, matsraya, and ahamkara (Love, Anger, Avarice, Lust, Pride, Unhealthy Competition, Jealousy and Boastfulness)… The next 3 are  the thrigunas of satwa, rajas and thamas and last two are vidya and avidya. Also the steps represent the 18 hills existing in and around the region of Sabarimala.

Here we offered coconut (eruthenga) and then climbed the sacred Pathinettam padi.  On both sides on the steps police stand and help the people physically to climb. Kerala polices were doing excellent job and efficiently controlling the crowd at Sannadhanam..  Once the sacred climb of Pathinettam padi is over we need to move fast on the long bridge, to have the darshan of Lord with irumudi kettu on our head. The Lord is in sitting position with one hand showing abhaya hastham and the other with chin mudra.. The idol is made of Panchaloham and is 18” in height..  The panchaloha idol sparkles in the light of oil lamps.. The  keezh santhis does nei abhishekam continuously.. Nei abhishekam is done from  4.30AM to 12 Noon.. In the afternoon only The Lord is decorated (alankaram).. All the pains we had undergone during our yatra vanished instantly at the moment we had the darshan of Lord Ayyappa. That moment of one or two minutes becomes the most valuable in our life for us to cherish for ever. Ayyappas offer kanikkai – cash- to Lord and put them in the big collection pot in front of Lord Ayyappa, from where they automatically move into the bank’s strong room. Later irumudi kettu is opened and the seal on the coconut is opened and the coconuts are broken and the Ghee for abhishekam is collected in a vessel and given for abhishekam. The Keezh santhi pours a portion of ghee on Lord and then ghee after abhishekam is collected and poured into our vessel and mixed. This becomes the most valuable Prasadam. Lakhs of people, instead of collecting the ghee in vessel and doing abhishekam, break the coconut and put them in the Nei thoni – Long channel – where the ghee flows and gets collected in big containers and Ghee from these containers is taken inside the Sree Kovil for abhishekam. These Ayyappas collect Ghee prasadam from a separate outlet, counters meant for this purpose. Other prasadam like Aravana Payasam and Appam are available from counters. Since we had booked the prasadams in advance through on line, there was no difficulty in collecting them.. Our group arranged a person in the temple to collect our prasadams.. The other items like rice, pori etc are put in the pots kept for these purposes which goes for Annadhanam.

Later the devotees move to worship Kanni moola Ganapathy and then Malikappuraththu Amma.. Kannimoola Ganapathy sits at south-west of the main temple.. The idol glitters in gold.. Devotees offer kanikkai to Lord Ganapathy and receive vibhuthi prasadam.. After worshipping Vigneswara devotees  move to worship  Malikapuraththamma ..  A small hill 100 meters away houses Malikappurathamma’s temple.. Here the idol of Goddess  glitters in gold.. At Malikapuraththamma’s temple new comers roll coconut around the Goddess’ temple.  Here the coconut is not broken and it is rolled on the ground around the temple.. Other offerings by devotees include betel leaves, turmeric powder, red silk cloth, saffron and money as kanikkai.. Devotees offer manjal podi to Goddess by sprinkling everywhere around the temple..

Our group had arranged to meet Melsanthi and we prostrated in front of him after offering Guru Dakshina to him..  Later  people climb down the Sannidhanam and again offer coconut (eruthenga) before leaving the temple. The climb down also is equally strenuous as balancing ourselves and controlling our speed is bit difficult. The climb down takes an hour to reach Pampa. Now we return with the picture of Lord in our mind and with the satisfaction of fulfilling our lifetime ambition. At Pampa we freshened ourselves in the cool and clean Pampa water.. On the way back we visited Lord Krishna temple at Thodupuzha before heading for our destination, Palakkad..

5 Dec 2012 Wednesday – Visited Perungottukavu Bhagavathy Temple, Kollengode.

6 Dec 2012 Thursday – Coimbatore – Mumbai flight -3.15PM. Reached Mumbai at 6 PM.