I just love to be in my village during the months of November and December. In fact, everybody in the state loves November because our Kerala state formed in a beautiful November month. But I love these months because of the ‘Mandala Kalam’. It is an auspicious period which starts in Mid November on the first day of Malayalam month, Vrishchikam’ and lasts till the eleventh day of the next month ‘Dhanu’. Devotees can visit Sabari Mala temple only during these months. Millions of devotees from across the world visit Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Dharma Shasta Temple every year for inner peace and prosperity. The annual pilgrimage to this temple is the second largest in the world. I just love the pleasant atmosphere, cool climate and the songs of Lord Ayyappa that come through the loudspeakers during this time. It is the right time to visit Kerala and plan a pilgrimage to the Sabarimala shrine.
I am a little excited for this Mandala Kalam because my mother and 8 year old daughter plan their pilgrimage to Sabarimala for the first time. The shrine is not easily accessible for women as there are some age restrictions for them. Females between the age group of 10-50 will not be allowed to visit the temple to offer prayers to the Boy God. The trekking through the dense forest is difficult, but at the same time fascinating. The rough terrain makes it tough to reach the temple.
Pilgrims can even spot some wildlife on the way at times. People who are adventurous may plan their trip to Sabarimala while reading this. But wait. The temple is not accessible so easily. One needs to follow prolonged penance and organized practice for planning their trip to this temple.
The prolonged penance may be a little difficult for each pilgrim to Sabarimala. But the strict rules and the trekking through the rough terrain certainly rejuvenate the body and soul of them. There are different trekking routes to reach the temple.
A devotee cannot reach Sabarimala without trekking. In fact, it helps him to cope with meager facilities and achieve spiritual growth. It is wise to get an idea about the pre-visit and on-site rituals before planning a pilgrimage to Sabarimala.
My husband, mother and daughter went to the nearby temple to wear the string of beads as a sign to go to Sabarimala. They should wear it and keep themselves away from all the bad habits and mental and physical emotions during the auspicious period. It is difficult for a person to take the vow in order to live in the path of Dharma. Even though Sabarimala is famous as a pilgrimage center, visiting the temple can be a rejuvenating and refreshing experience. Trekking through the dense forest can be exciting. Besides, there are many beautiful attractions on the way. Some of the nearest tourist spots to Sabarimala are Vagamon, Peerumedu, Punalur and Pathanamthitta.
As I said, I love the Mandala Kalam during the months of November and December.
Even though I cannot climb up the hills to reach this temple due to age restrictions, I am also following the strict rules these days in order to inspire my daughter. I hope I can also follow the prolonged penance and enjoy trekking through the rich forest to visit Lord Ayyappa with my husband and sons when I turn 50.