Nestled by the hills of the Western Ghats, the Sabarimala Temple is an important religious center. A large number of pilgrims visit this temple when the Sabarimala Festival is celebrated here each year.
History of the Sabarimala Festival in Kerala
The Sabarimala Festival includes the Makara Villaku Festival and the Mandala Puja Festival. The presiding deity of the Sabarimala Temple is Lord Ayyappa. He is highly revered by the people.
According to legend he was born of the union of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu and is hence symbolic of the unity between Shaivites and Vaishnavites. The Makara Villaku Festival commemorates the day on which Lord Ayyappa was installed in the Sabarimala temple. The Mandal Puja Festival is a prelude to the Makara Villaku Festival.
Description of the Sabarimala Festival in Kerala
A large number of devotees undertake a pilgrimage tour on the occasion of the Sabarimala Festival in Kerala. This is one such festival which truly reflects the secular spirit of the country. Irrespective of caste, creed or color, people wear black dhotis and start the steep climb uphill. On the way, they even offer their prayers to Vavar, a Muslim deity. The name of the lord is continuously chanted to reduce the strain of the tiring trek.
The Sabarimala Temple is impressively decorated on the occasion of the Sabarimala Festival. On the occasion of the Sabarimala Festival, the ornaments of Lord Ayyappa are brought from the Pandalam Palace in a grand procession. The gorgeously decorated deity dazzling with jewelleries keep the devotees startled. They religiously offer their prayers to the lord.
On the seventh day of the Makara Villaku festival, Guruthi is celebrated in which offerings are made to the lord. It is customary for no one to remain inside the temple after this day.
Time for celebrating the Sabarimala Festival in Kerala
The Sabarimala Festival in Kerala lasts from November to January.
The Mandala Pooja Festival, an important part of the Sabarimala Festival in Kerala begins 41 days before the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti. It continues for that period of 41 days at a stretch.
The Makara Villaku Pooja Festival, the most important part of the Sabarimala Festival in Kerala lasts for seven days. It commences on Makar Sankranti which is a very auspicious day of the Hindu calendar. It also heralds the beginning of the Malayalam month of Makaram.