It is one of the most auspicious pilgrimage tours of South India. Sabarimala Pilgrimage began early on Thursday here in Kerala’s At 3 a.m. sharp on the first day of Malayalam month Vrishickam, Ayyappan’s temple opened the doors for the two-month-long pilgrimage season amid shouts of ‘Swamiye Sharanamayappa’. Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Temple is one of the most ancient and prominent Sastha temples in the country located in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta district in Kerala.
As the sanctum sanctorum of the famed temple here was opened Sabarimala Pilgrimage began early on Thursday morning. Sabarimala is linked to Hindu pilgrimage, predominantly for men of all ages. 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.
Pilgrims from across the country and even from abroad, flock to Sabarimala to pay their homage to the lord Ayyapa. The shrine gets thronged with devotees especially during the main pilgrim season from November to January. The two most important events of the pilgrimage event is the Mandala pooja and the Makaravilakku. But not everyone could be persevering enough to undertake this pilgrimage as abstinence is a must. A pilgrim attending the Mandalapooja should observe austerities (Vratham) for atleast 41 days.
Last time, the tragedy has struck this pilgrimage as over a 100 devotees were killed in a stampede. This year special precautions are being taken so that another such incident is avoided. Extra security personnel are deployed extra block ups are being set up en route to temple. Also the temple would remain open from 3:00 AM in the morning till 1:00 PM in the afternoon and then again from 3:00 PM in the evening till 11:45 in the Night.
The state department for transportation KSRTC has set up special counters for the pilgrims. Heavy rush of pilgrims are witnessed from the very first day of the pilgrimage which will last for close to two months. Looking at the popularity of this pilgrimage tour in South India, Sabarimala is rightly accorded the status of “Mecca of Hindus”.