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The shrine

The temple: A backgrounder

The Sabarimala temple: A backgrounder
From: Nov 15, 2019: The Times of India

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The Sabarimala temple: A backgrounder

A shrine inside a tiger reserve

The Sabarimala shrine
From: September 29, 2018: The Times of India

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The Sabarimala shrine

Court judgements (general)

Queue, virtual: Police have no right to manage it: HC

April 23, 2022: The Times of India

Kochi:The Kerala HC on Friday ordered that control of the virtual queue system for Sabarimala darshan be transferred from Kerala police to Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) that manages the temple.

Police cannot continue to manage the virtual queue system when it is the TDB that has the right to manage the functions, rituals and darshan at the temple, the court said. 
It also said the police don’t have the right to use the name of Sabarimala or the temple’s logo or picture and it cannot be used to generate revenue, referring to advertisements on the website maintained by police for the queue system.

A division bench led by Justice Anil K Narendran gave the order on a suo motu case and two petitions filed by K S R Menon of Aluva and the Travancore Devaswom Board Employees Front. It said the TDB should take control of the virtual queue system within three months.

Deaths during pilgrimage


Dec 25, 2019 The The Times Of India

SABARIMALA: As many as 19 devotees, including those from neighbouring states, have died of cardiac arrest while trekking to Sabarimala during the ongoing pilgrimage season, which began in mid-November, according to authorities.

Of the 19, 15 passed away at Pamba, the foothills of the Lord Ayyappa temple, while four died at the government medical college, Kottayam, a statement from the Tranvacore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the temple, said here.

A 61-year-old devotee from Gudalur in Tamil Nadu, identified as Rajendran V, was the last one in the list, it said. He had suffered a heart attack at Appachimedu near the shrine recently, it said.

Of the total of 30,157 medical cases reported at the 15 medical centres from Pamba to Sannidhanam (the temple premises), 414 were emergency cases, the statement added.

Meanwhile, the shrine is witnessing a heavy rush as the first leg of the over two-month-long pilgrim seasons is about to conclude with the auspicious mandala puja on December 27.

Entry of women in the temple

The legal case: 1983-2018

1983-2018- The long fight for entry to the shrine
From: September 29, 2018: The Times of India

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1983-2018- The long fight for entry to the shrine

The legal case: 1990-2019

Sabarimala: The legal case, 1990-2019
From: Nov 15, 2019: The Times of India

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Sabarimala: The legal case, 1990-2019

Age proof required

Age proof must for women now at Sabarimala, January 5, 2018: The Times of India

Thiruvananthapuram: An authentic age proof document is now a must for women visiting the famed Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala in Kerala, where the entry of female devotees in the age group of 10-50 is banned.

The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the shrine, has decided to make the age proof mandatory during the ongoing pilgrim season.

Women in the menstruating age group are restricted from offering prayers at Sabarimala because the presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa is considered to be a ‘naishtika brahmachari’ (perennial celibate).

“Carrying an authentic age proof will help avoid unnecessary arguments between women pilgrims and the police and Devaswom officials,” TDB president A Padmakumar said.

Associating menstruation with purity

The Times of India, Apr 26 2016

How can you link periods to purity: SC on Sabarimala ban

AmitAnand Choudhary  The Travancore Devasvom Board, which manages Kerala's Sabarimala Temple justified ban on the entry of females in the age group of 10-50, saying it is an age-old practice and such restrictions were followed in other religious places too.

“Woman below 10 years or above 50 years are allowed to visit the temple. The classification is not on the ground of gender,“ the board's lawyer K K Venugopal told a bench of justices Dipak Misra, V Gopala Gowda and Kurian Joseph.

The bench retorted, “Are you associating menstruation with purity ? Can a biological phenomenon be a reason for barring women?“ Venugopal said classification on the basis of age had been followed in different fields.

“We will see what prevails -Constitutional philosophy or your faith,“ the bench said.

Entry of women between 10 and 50 years

The Times of India, Apr 12 2016

AmitAnand Choudhary

Sabarimala tradition can't override statute, says SC  Ban On Entry Of Women Violates Art 25

The Supreme Court frowned upon the practice of barring women between the ages of 10 and 50 years from the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala, asserting that religious practice and tradition could not be allowed to dent constitutional principles and values.

Questioning the validity of tradition which has been under attack from feminists and others, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra, V Gopala Gowda and Kurian Joseph said temple was a public religious place and it must observe the constitutional values of gender equality .

The judges said the issue involved the question whether tradition could override the Constitution which prohibited gender discrimination. “Why this kind of classification for devotees to visit the temple? We are on constitutional principles.Gender discrimination in such matters is untenable.You cannot create corrosion or erosion in constitutional values,“ the bench said.

Counsels of Kerala go vernment and the temple board vehemently supported the ban on entry of women into the shrine revered by millions. However, the bench made it clear that the judiciary would decide such issues only on the basis of constitutional provisions and would not be swayed by tradition.

The bench pointed out that women had always been at a higher pedestal in society since time immemorial and it was part of the country's ancient tradition.

Senior advocate V Giri, appearing for the Kerala government, said bar on entry of women was due to the biological phenomenon of menstruation. He said the government was duty bound to protect the centuries-old tradition banning women from the temple.

The bench, however, said such practice was against the spirit of Article 25 which guarantees every citizen the right to practice and propagate religion.

Justification, by temple board, on bar on women

AmitAnand Choudhary, July 20, 2018: The Times of India

Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the Sabarimala temple, justified the ban on entry of women in the menstruating age group of 10-50 years into the temple and told the Supreme Court that the restriction was in place to maintain purity of the temple which depicted “perennial brahmacharya (celibacy)”.

Appearing before a constitution bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, the board’s counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued it was wrong to say that there was gender discrimination and ban on entry of women as there was just a restriction on entry of women in the age group of 10-50 years. He said people from all castes and religions were allowed to enter the temple as were women below 10 years and above 50 years. He said there were thousands of Ayyappa temples across the country and such restriction was not there in any of them and women, irrespective of their age, could visit those temples.

“Why do women want to visit only Sabarimala temple? There are many other temples of Lord Ayyappa and they can go there. There is no such restriction. Sabarimala temple is supposed to depict ‘naishtika brahmacharya’, his great powers deriving specifically from his ascetic endeavours, in particular from abstention from sexual activities, and the practice is also followed by pilgrims before and during the pilgrimage to Sabarimala,” Singhvi said.

The bench, however, said it was devotion that drove people to go to a particular temple and it was the choice of devotees. “Once you say a person is not allowed to visit the temple, then you have to justify the prohibition,” the court said. It also questioned why the board’s notification only talked about age restriction when the purpose was to restrict menstruating women from entering the temple.

The board said the court would have to go into history and mythology to find out what set this temple apart from others and to find out why women in the reproductive age group, that is between 10 and 50 years, were not allowed.

SC’s Sabarimala verdict of 2018, July

See Religious sites and women: India / Women’s entry into places of worship: India

2018/ protests against the verdict

Sabarimala verdict sparks protests in Kerala, October 3, 2018: The Times of India

Hundreds of Ayyappa devotees took out protest marches at various parts of the state demanding a review of the Supreme Court order permitting women of all ages to worship at Sabarimala temple on Tuesday. Marches held at Palakkad, Kochi, Pandalam, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram were attended by hundreds of believers, including women.

At Pandalam, the protest was led by Sasikumara Varma, the representative of Pandalam Palace. In Thiruvananthapuram, Rahul Easwar from the family of Sabarimala Thanthri led the march along with Prayar Gopalakrishnan, former president of Travancore Devaswom Board. In other places, devotees assembled under the banner Antharashtra Hindu Parishath (AHP).

Sources said the unexpected support gathered by AHP has prompted a rethinking in the state BJP leadership, which now wants the government to be cautious while implementing the court order.

AHP leaders said they wanted the state and central governments to file review petitions in the SC and seek a fresh directive to continue with the old custom of not allowing young women to the temple. If the SC dismisses that, a legislation in the line of one drafted to protect Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu must be brought in, they said.

Tuesday’s protests led to traffic disruptions in some centres. At the busy Vytilla junction in Kochi, vehicular traffic was disturbed for over 45 minutes. The protesters at Palakkad blocked the Coimbatore-Thrissur highway. At Pandalam, the protest march was along the busy MC Road from Medical Mission Hospital Jn to Valiya Koyikkal temple. In Thiruvananthapuram, the protest march on the MG Road concluded in front of Hanuman temple at PMG Jn.

SC’s Sabarimala verdict of 2018, Sept

AmitAnand Choudhary, Another male bastion falls as SC opens Sabarimala to all women, September 29, 2018: The Times of India

Justice Malhotra, Lone Woman On Bench, Dissents

In a path-breaking verdict to ensure gender equality at religious places, the Supreme Court on Friday opened the doors of the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala to all women devotees, ending the age-old custom that barred women in the menstruating age group of 10-50 from entering the temple to worship Lord Ayyappa.

A five-judge Constitution bench by a 4-1 majority held that devotees of Lord Ayyappa were “exclusively Hindus”

and did not constitute a separate religious denomination, and that the practice of exclusion of some women could not be regarded as an essential part of religion.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud unanimously held that the practice of barring women devotees in the 10-50 years’ age group was illegal, unconstitutional and arbitrary.

Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman judge on the bench, penned a dissenting verdict, holding that worshippers of Lord Ayyappa did belong to a separate denomination and the ban on entry of some women was an essential part of their religion.

The apex court bench said any subversion and repression of women under the garb of biological or physiological factors (such as menstruation) could not be given the seal of legitimacy and any discrimination against women because of their biological characteristics was not only “unfounded, indefensible and implausible but can also never pass the muster of constitutionality”.

“Patriarchy in religion cannot be permitted to trump the element of pure devotion borne out of faith and the freedom to practise and profess one’s religion,” said CJI Dipak Mishra, who wrote the judgment on behalf of himself and Justice Khanwilkar.

Morality of mob can’t overrule individual dignity: Chandrachud

AmitAnand Choudhary, September 29, 2018: The Times of India

Morality of the mob should not be allowed to undermine the rights of individual citizens granted under the Constitution as popular notions about what is moral and what is not are transient and fleeting, Justice D Y Chandrachud noted in his verdict allowing entry of women of all age groups into Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

“Popular notions about what is or is not moral may in fact be deeply offensive to individual dignity and human rights. Individual dignity cannot be allowed to be subordinate to the morality of the mob. Nor can the intolerance of society operate as a marauding morality to control individual self-expression in its manifest form. The Constitution would not render the existence of rights so precarious by subjecting them to passing fancies or to the aberrations of a morality of popular opinion,” Justice Chandrachud said.

“The expression has been adopted in a constitutional text and it would be inappropriate to give it a content which is momentary or impermanent. Then again, the expression ‘morality’ cannot be equated with prevailing social conceptions or those which may be subsumed within mainstream thinking in society at a given time. The Constitution has been adopted for a society of plural cultures and if its provisions are any indication, it is evident that the text does not pursue either a religious theocracy or a dominant ideology,” he said.

He said the Constitution has been adopted for a society of plural cultures and if its provisions are any indication, it is evident that the text does not pursue either a religious theocracy or dominant ideology. “Once individual dignity assumes the character of a shining star in the constellation of fundamental rights, the place of religion in public places must be conditioned by India’s unwavering commitment to a constitutional order based on human dignity. Practices which are destructive of liberty and those which make some citizens less equal than others can simply not be countenanced. To treat women as children of a lesser god is to blink at the Constitution itself,” he said.

Dissenting voice was of the lone woman on bench

AmitAnand Choudhary, September 29, 2018: The Times of India

Although the Supreme Court’s Constitution bench by a majority 4-1 opinion demolished the gender barrier at Sabarimala temple in Kerala by allowing entry of women of all age groups, the dissenting voice came from the lone woman judge on the bench — Justice Indu Malhotra — who upheld the practice and appealed for judicial restraint in interfering with religious matters.

Justice Malhotra said worshippers of Lord Ayyappa formed a separate religious denomination and the practice of not allowing women from the 10-50 years’ age group was part of their essential religious practices which were protected under the Constitution.

“Judicial review of religious practices ought not to be undertaken, as the court cannot impose its morality or rationality with respect to the form of worship of a deity. Doing so would negate the freedom to practise one’s religion according to one’s faith and beliefs. It would amount to rationalising religion, faith and beliefs, which is outside the ken of courts,” she said.

Justice Malhotra said if any practice in a particular temple could be traced to antiquity and is integral to the temple, it must be taken to be an essential religious practice of that temple and courts should not interfere in it.

“In the present case, the character of the temple at Sabarimala is unique on the basis of centuries old religious practices followed to preserve the manifestation of the deity, and the worship associated with it. Any interference with the mode and manner of worship of this religious denomination, or sect, would impact the character of the temple, and affect the beliefs and practices of the worshippers of this temple,” she said.

“The right to equality claimed by the petitioners under Article 14 conflicts with the rights of the worshippers of this shrine which is also a fundamental right guaranteed by Articles 25, and 26 of the Constitution. It would compel the court to undertake judicial review under Article 14 to delineate the rationality of religious beliefs or practices... It is not for the courts to determine which of these practices of a faith are to be struck down, except if they are pernicious, oppressive, or a social evil, like Sati,” she said.

“In the present case, women of the notified age group are allowed entry into all other temples of Lord Ayyappa. The restriction on the entry of women during the notified age group in this temple is based on the unique characteristic of the deity, and not founded on any social exclusion. The analogy sought to be drawn by comparing the rights of Dalits with reference to entry to temples and women is wholly misconceived and unsustainable,” Justice Malhotra said.

“Worship has two elements — the worshipper, and the worshipped. The right to worship under Article 25 cannot be claimed in the absence of the deity in the particular form in which he has manifested himself,” she said.

The photo that took a devout to court

Jaikrishnan Nair , September 29, 2018: The Times of India

A P Joy, the freelance news photographer, whose photograph of a family event at the shrine 28 years ago recalled the incident. He said he was on a “usual visit” to the shrine in August 1990 when he noticed something interesting. “The woman executive officer of the Travancore Devaswom Board Chandrika was at the temple along with her 22-yearold daughter. It was the first rice-feeding ceremony of the officer’s granddaughter,” said Joy from California in the US.

According to Joy, the woman officer smelt trouble after seeing him take the photograph and approached him with a request to not trouble her. “She wanted me not to provide the photographs to newspapers at any cost. I told her that was impossible,” he said. Joy also informed Raman Bhattathirippad, the then TDB president, about the incident.

Joy alleges a person came to his room in the guest house in Pampa with Rs 50,000. “I refused the amount and distributed the photograph to around 15 newspapers. Everyone published and one reader approached the court with the photograph,” he said.

2019/ Won’t direct Kerala to enforce women’s entry: SC

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Dec 14, 2019 Times of India

Expressing apprehension of violence, the Supreme Court said it would not direct the Kerala government to forcibly implement a five-judge bench’s verdict quashing the bar on the entry of females between 10 and 50 years into the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple till a seven-judge bench reconsidered the judgment on the “emotive” issue, which stemmed from a 1,000-year-old tradition.

Appearing for Fathima A S and Bindu Ammini, who sought entry into Sabarimala on the basis of the SC’s September 28, 2018 judgment, senior advocates Colin Gonsalves and Indira Jaising said the order was the law of the land as its operation was not stayed despite being referred to a seven-judge bench. The SC’s failure to ensure its implementation would send a wrong signal on gender equality, they said.

Sabarimala emotive issue, don’t want violence: CJI

Law is in your favour, we know. True, it is not stayed. If they (government) do not comply with our judgment, we will send them to jail. But it is an emotive issue. The tradition has been in existence for a thousand years. That is probably the reason which persuaded the five-judge bench to refer it to a seven-judge bench on November 14. Be patient and wait for the ruling,” the bench of CJI S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant said.

Bobde added, “I will endeavour to constitute the seven-judge bench at the earliest. These two petitions will be listed for hearing after the seven-judge bench gives its ruling. If the seven-judge bench decides in your favour, we will pass orders, but not today. It is one of those issues where we do not want violence to happen.”

When Gonsalves and Jaising persisted on implementation of the September 28 order, the SC bench said, “You are right but we are exercising our discretion not to pass any order today. If the Kerala government or the temple authorities happily welcome you into the temple, we have no problem. But we will not pass any orders on these petitions till the seven-judge bench gives its ruling.” However, the bench continued its order of last year granting police protection to Bindu Ammini on Jaising’s request. Gonsalves requested similar protection for Fathima but the bench asked whether his client too faced threats. Later, it said if Fathima faced any threat, she would be free to approach Kerala Police for protection.

On November 14, a five-judge bench headed by then CJI Ranjan Gogoi had asked a seven-judge bench to evolve guidelines for deciding cases involving clash of fundamental rights and faith emerging from women’s entry to temples, mosques and Parsi agiyaris. Ex-CJI Gogoi and Justices A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra had formed the majority opinion and said the seven-judge bench would evolve a comprehensive judicial policy to guide the court in future adjudication of cases encompassing the clash between citizens’ right to equality and believers’ faith in religious practices and customs. But Justices R F Nariman and D Y Chandrachud dissented and said the September 28 judgment must be implemented in letter and spirit and any attempt to thwart it “cannot be countenanced”.


2018: Restored to Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple

RADHAKRISHNAN KUTTOOR, TDB restores name of Sabarimala temple, January 5, 2018: The Times of India

Board to place before SC its stand on women’s entry

The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) has decided to restore the name of the Sabarimala temple to Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple, revoking the decision taken by the previous board renaming it as Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Swami Temple. The decision was taken at a TDB meeting held at the board headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

TDB president A. Padmakumar told The Hindu that the earlier decision to rename the Sabarimala temple was taken disregarding the strong objection raised by board member K. Raghavan. The government too was not happy with the controversial decision, he said.

Mr. Padmakumar said many Ayyappa devotees had expressed concern over the renaming of the temple. The previous board’s clarification was that the name-changing exercise would be helpful in defending the case pending before the Supreme Court (SC) over permitting entry for women of all ages to Sabarimala.

However, the TDB president said the board would place its strong and stern stand before the apex court against the demand from certain quarters for permitting women in all age groups to Sabarimala. Changing the name of the temple was not at all a necessity to support the TDB stand in the court that, sticking to the custom and tradition, women in the menstruating age group of 10 to 50 years should not be permitted to enter Sabarimala. The previous board’s decision had left many Ayyappa devotees confused and dejected, he said.

Mr. Padmakumar said board meeting decided to introduce punching system for employees at the TDB headquarters. The proposed punching system would be modelled on the one at the Secretariat. The system would be extended to all TDB offices in a time-bound manner.

Pollution, garbage, the environment


Sabarimala crush puts reserve at risk

Malini Nair

The Times of India Jun 22 2014

20L Pilgrims Trample Periyar’s Forests Every Your

From a distance, it is hard to figure out what the mess piled up on the banks of river Pamba is. The photograph is actually a surreal view of a sea of sodden dhotis abandoned by pilgrims as they end the hard trek to the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala.

This pile will soon degrade into pulp and join other junk and sewage waste that flows down this once pristine river that feeds the Periyar Tiger Reserve. This will include water bottles, oil drained from smashed coconut shells and other kinds of non-degradable rubbish. This is what you see at the end of the festive season of December and January every year when a staggering 20 lakh pilgrims trek through the forested landscape of Sabarimala.

Veteran wildlife photographer NP Jayan worked for two years in the region, documenting the massive damage to its environment. Of the 7,000 frames he clicked, 70 are being mounted at the India International Centre in Delhi at a photo show titled Thathwamasi, Eye on the Periyar Tiger Reserve and Sabarimala.

“Every route is littered with piles of refuse. The facilities here cannot even cope with 10 lakh pilgrims and we get 35 lakh on the final day,“ says Jayan.

Regulation of pilgrimages is a sensitive issue for obvious reasons but it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the devastation caused by excessive flow of the devout to India’s tirth yatras. Many such sacred sites are located in the midst of nature — rivers, mountains and forests were protected because they were hard to access. Sabarimala itself is called a ‘kanana kshetram’ (forest temple), where the flora and fauna are as sacred as the shrine itself. “You cannot treat it like a popular urban temple. You cannot build concrete structures, roads and helipads and change it undamental concept,” says former forest minister Binoy Viswam.

“The Travancore Devaswom Board seems to be only concerned with awarding of contracts.” Environmentalists fear a disaster like Kedarnath. Environmentalists fear a disaster like Kedarnath. Experts believe the Himalayan tragedy was the result of excessive construction to cater to pilgrim needs. The Periyar forest reserve, known for its rich biodiversity, is threatened by rampant development. “There are few tiger sightings here now,” Jayan says,.

There was a time when Sabarimala was a tough pilgrimage. It wound through difficult terrain inhabited by predators, and young women were not allowed entry. Today, access is easy, authorities have eased the ordeals, and the route is littered with shacks. This pulls pilgrims from across the country. “The authorities seem wary of offending the bhaktas,” says Jayan.

In early 2014, the decaying carcass of an elephant was found here. He had ingested kilos of plastic waste. So far only plastic bags were banned inside the temple. There is now a call to extend the ban to all plastics.

“It is now up to devotees to step up and take care of the temple’s environment,” says Viswam.

Prayers, rituals

Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple

Special Poojas

'Neyyabhishekam' - Neyyabhishekam is the most important offering to Lord Ayyappa. The ghee filled coconut is used to perform this ritual. The ritual starts at 4 AM and continue till Ucha Pooja (1PM). After performing the darsan of Lord Ayyappa and upa-prathistas, the group of Ayyappa pilgrim will make a Viri under the leadership of Guruswamy. They collect all ghee filled coconut and arrange in the viri.

After taking bath at Bhasmakulam, the team leader, usually a Guruswamy will break all ghee filled coconuts and collect the ghee in a vessel to offer it at the Srikovil. The priest after performing the Neyyabhishekam will return a portion of the ghee back to the devotee. The ghee obtained from the Srikovil is taken back as a divine prasadam. For devotees who don’t bring ghee filled coconut, Devaswom board has arranged facility to get “Adiyashistam neyyu”.

The ghee symbolizes the human soul and through the abhishekam of the ghee on Lord Ayyappa the soul merges with the Supreme Being. The jeevatma is ghee and the paramatma is Lord Ayyappa.

Once the ghee is removed from the coconut, then the coconut symbolizes Jadam or dead body. This is the reason why the coconut is then offered in the huge Aazhi or fire in front of the temple.

'Padi Pooja’ – Padi Pooja, pooja of the 18 holy steps ‘Pathinettampadi’ is held on select days after the floral bathing of the idol called ‘Pushpabhiskeham’. The pooja is conducted in evenings and is performed by the Tantri, in the presence of the Mel Santhi. The hour-long ritual by decorating the Holy Steps with flowers and silk cloths after lighting traditional lamps on each step, concluded with performing “aarathi” by the thantri.

‘Udayasthamana Pooja’ – Udayasthamaya literally means from sunrise to sunset. Hence it implies worship from sunrise to sunset. Udayasthamana pooja is conducted from dawn to dusk (from Nirmalyam to Athazha pooja). In addition to the Nithya pooja, special poojas with Archanas and Abhishekams are conducted to obtain the “Anugraham” of Bhagavan which enables to fulfill the wishes of the devotees. Out of the total 18 poojas, 15 are done before noon and there are 45 kalasabhishekams.


Sahasrakalasam'-Sahasra Kalasam is an offering to Hariharaputhra (Sri Dharmashastha) as per the Thantric Veda and Agama Shastras with a view to sleek blessings for the happiness of the mankind. It is the noble effort to invoke all the holy spirits utilizing all that is sacred in the form of incense, the precious and semiprecious stone, the seven seas, and the sacred rivers into the holy kalasam (Sacred Pot) of gold, silver, copper etc.

'Ulsavabali' -The rituals of Ulsava Bali begins with the sounding of Paani .Ulsava Bali is dedicated to the Bhoothaganams (associates of the presiding deity) and Paani is meant to invite the Bhoothaganams. Then begins the sprinkling of cooked raw rice (Ulsava Bali Thooval) to cover the balikallu of the Bhoothaganams around the Naalambalam and Balikkalpura by the temple Thanthri. When the sprinkling of the cooked rice over the Saptha Maathrukkal is completed, the Thidambu of the presiding deity is taken out of the sanctum sanctorum to enable the devotees to offer prayers. Ulsava Bali is held as part of the annual festival at the Lord Ayyappa Temple.

'Puspabhishekam' - Puspabhishekam is the showering of flowers on Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala. The flowers and leaves that are used in Pushpabhishekam ritual are Tamara (lotus), Jamanthi, Arali, Tulsi (Basel), Mulla (Jasmine) and Kuvalam (bilva leaves). A devotee who wishes to perform Pushpabhishekam at Sabarimala has to book in advance. The cost of performing the Pushpabhishekam is Rs.10,000/-. 'Ashtabhishekam' - Ashtabhishekam is one of the important offering to Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala. The eight items used for Ashtabhishekam at Sabarimala are:





Tender coconut water

Sandalwood or Chandanam

Rosewater or Panineer


(Please note that Ashtabhishekam offered in Hindu Religion varies from temple to temple)

'Kalabhabhishekam' - Kalabhabhishekam is a very important special pooja usually performed for the strengthening of the chaithanya of the Deity. As part of kalabhabhishekam, Thantri performes the Kalabhakalasa pooja at the Nalambalam in the presence of Melsanthi .

Kalabhakalasabhishekam, marking the conclusion of the ritual by pouring the sandalwood paste on the idol of Lord Ayyappa, is performed during the Ucha pooja by the Thantri after the procession carrying the golden urn having sandal paste for the Kalabhabhishekam around the Sreekovil.

'Laksharchana' - ARCHANA means “chanting and glorifying the Divine name”. LAK means 100,000. Therefore, LAKSHARCHANA is the name and practice of repeating in a group, the name of the Lord in the form of a Mantra.

Later, the Thantri, assisted by Melsanthi and some other priests performs Laksharchana at the Sannidhanam. The `Brahmakalasam’ of the laksharchana is taken in procession to the sanctum sanctorum for `abhishekam’, prior to the `uchapuja’.

Use of Animals

HC bans use of elephants at Sabarimala temple

The Times of India, June 3, 2016

The Kerala High Court directed that elephant should not be used for idol procession during Sabarimala's main festival season, 'Makaravilakku'. However, the court has allowed using one elephant for the procession in connection with the annual festival.

A division bench comprising acting chief justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and justice Anu Sivaraman issued the directive after obtaining the views of two 'tantris' (traditional chief priests)and Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which is the autonomous body that manages the hilltop shrine for Lord Ayyappa in Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala.

Sabarimala 'tantris' Kantararu Rajeevararu and Kantararu Mahesh Mohanaru had informed the court that there is no need to use the elephant for 'Makaravilakku' as per rituals and tradition. However, they different in their opinions regarding use of elephant for the annual festival. In the order, the court said use of elephant is being allowed for the annual festival as the 'tantris' differ in their views regarding its necessity.

TDB had opposed the views put forward by the 'tantris' regarding 'Makaravilakku' and had told the court that rituals and traditions at Sabarimala that presently involves the use of elephants should be retained as such. TDB, which manages over 1,200 temples including Sabarimala, has an annual revenue of Rs350 crore, with offerings made by Sabarimala pilgrims during the two-month-long pilgrimage season contributing more than Rs200 crore to TDB's total revenue.

See also

Mumbai: Haji Ali

Religious sites and women: India


Temple trusts/ boards

Personal tools