Religions and Religious Thoughts of India

||Hinduism|| ||Jainism|| ||Buddhism || ||Sikhism|| ||Islam|| ||Christianity|| ||Zoroastrianism|| ||Judaism || ||Bahai Faith|| ||Other Faiths|| ||Pilgrimages||
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Religious Pilgrimages of India

||Amarnath Yatra|| ||Haj Yatra|| ||Kalchakra|| ||Kumbh Mela|| ||Ayyappa Temple || ||Pushkar Mela|| ||Urs of Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti||

AYAPPA TEMPLE

 

The Religious Pilgrimage of India

The hill temple of Lord Ayyappa is situated in the Sahyadri mountain ranges of the Western Ghats of Kerala. It is one of the most ancient and popular pilgrim centres of India. This holy place, which is popularly referred as Sabarimala, meaning Sabari hills, attracts the attention of millions of pilgrims from within and outside India every year. The temple is open to all devotees irrespective of caste, creed, religion or social status. The presiding deity of the temple is Ayyappa, who is regarded as the incarnation of Dharama Shasta or the ordainer of Dharma, the eternal law. He is also described as Hariharaputra, the son of Vishnu and Shiva. It is believed that Ayyappa was born in a supernatural way to annihilate the demoness Mahishi. The idol of Shasta is believed to have been installed at Sabrimala on the day of Makar Sankranti (mid-January). The idol of Ayyappa is just one and half feet fall and is embodied in a framework of an alloy made of five metals called Panchaloha. Devotees believe that on this day, a peculiar light called ‘Makara Vilakku’ or ‘Makkara-Jyoti’ is seen facing the deity over the hills and they eagerly await this blissful sight.

The Makara Vilakku is preceded by the period of Mandalam, which is a 41-day long ritualistic worship during which the pilgrims observe strict discipline and rigid austerities like wearing black clothes, observing strict celibacy and avoiding meat and alcohol. The devotees wear a sacred chain made of tulasi beads called ‘rudraksha’. Girls and women between 10 and 50 years of age are not allowed to visit the temple to facilitate strict observance of celibacy in the temple complex. Only those pilgrims who have observed the austerities for at least 41 days are allowed to use the Patinenttampadi (or the 18 steps) leading to the main sanctum sanctorum. The devotees greet one another as ‘Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa’. Over five million people visit the temple every year between the Mandalam and Makara-Vilakku Festivals.

||Hinduism|| ||Jainism|| ||Buddhism || ||Sikhism|| ||Islam|| ||Christianity|| ||Zoroastrianism|| ||Judaism || ||Bahai Faith|| ||Other Faiths|| ||Pilgrimages||
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Famous Religious Personalities||


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