Thousands of devotees thronged Sabarimala Ayyappa temple on the first day of Sabarimala pilgrimage on November 17 deemed to be the largest annual religious confluence in the world. Long queues of devotees, called Ayyappas, for darshan are getting formed for paying homage to the deity. The pilgrimage will end in January 2013.
WORLD-FAMOUS Sabarimala is a Hindu pilgrimage center in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta district in Kerala. It is the largest annual pilgrimage in world with an estimated 45–50 million devotees visiting the temple every year.
According to the local administration, over 2,000 policemen have been deployed at Sabarimala and Pampa to control the crowds. It is the most remote shrine in southern India. Pampa is the main halting point on the way to Sabarimala. From here one has to trek 4 to 5 kms to reach the temple.
Certain customs are to be strictly observed if one has to undertake a pilgrimage to Sabarimala. A pilgrim attending the Mandalapooja should observe austerities for 41 days. During this period, the pilgrim should abstain himself from non-vegetarian food and sensual pleasures.
Generally pilgrims set out in groups under a leader, and each one of them carries a cloth bundle called ‘Irumudi kettu’ containing traditional offerings.