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Updated by Nandini Paul on Nov 05, 2018
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Nandini Paul Nandini Paul
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5 things to know about Sabarimala

You may have probably read about the Sabarimala temple by now. The temple, dedicated to Ayyappa, is in the midst of a controversy with the Supreme Court questioning the basis of a 1500-year-old rule that prohibits women in the menstrual age group from entering the temple premises.

1

Lord Ayappa

Lord Ayappa

The reason why women in the menstrual age group are prohibited from entering the premises of the temple is because Ayyappa, the presiding deity of the temple, was a bramhachari or celibate. Post menopausal women, however, are allowed to enter. Seen above is a female pilgrim walking through the forest towards Sabarimala temple in Pullumedu, Kerala.

2

One of the largest pilgrimages in the world

One of the largest pilgrimages in the world

With an estimated number of a 50 million devotees every year, the temple at Sabarimala is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world. The reason why devotees flock here is because Sabarimala is generally believed to be the place where Ayappa meditated after killing the powerful demon, Mahishi.

3

Location

Location

Ayyappa�s temple in Sabarimala is nestled amidst 18 hills. Located at a height of over 1500 ft above mean sea level, the temple is surrounded by dense forest which also houses the Periyar Tiger Reserve.

4

41 day penance

41 day penance

Devotees are expected to observe a 41-day penance prior to making the annual pilgrimage (between November and January) to Sabarimala. The penance includes the practice of wearing a chain made of rudraksha (like in the picture above) and abstinence from non-vegetarian food, tobacco, sex and foul language. Devotees are also expected to bathe twice a day, visit a local temple regularly, wear only plain black or blue colored clothing and not trim nails, get a haircut or even shave.

5

Lights

Lights

Some 15,000 electric lamps of all kinds light up the shrine, its base camps and the trekking paths. By all estimates, the supply of electricity is uninterrupted and the well-maintained lamps ensures that the temple and the paths leading to it are illuminated, courtesy the Kerala State Electricity Board.