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Mandala pooja 2014-2015-2016
Kerala is a land of cultures and traditions where celebrations never end. Various festivals are celebrated in this vibrant state throughout the year and these are the occasions when grandeur reigns over the simplicity of the Kerala lifestyle. Be it a major festival or the one celebrated on local level, new clothing and extravagant feasts are necessary for the celebrations. Apart from being the occasions for amusement, the festivals of Kerala are the preservers of traditional art and culture of the region. These celebrations are probably the only occasion when classical art forms come alive, representing the culture and tradition of the state.
Although, the magnificent land of Kerala is known for a number of festivals celebrated here, one of the significant occasions includes the celebration of Mandala Pooja. It is a 41 day long celebration which is observed by the followers of Lord Ayyappa. Beginning from the first day of Vrishchikam, a Malayalam month, which usually falls in November and December, the long celebration of Mandal Pooja comes to end on the 11th or 12th day of Dhanu month which is in December or January. During this period, devotees worship and pay homage to Lord Ayyappa.
Mandala Pooja celebration at Sabrimala
The festival of Mandala Pooja is celebrated in different parts of the state of Kerala with great pleasure and joy. However, devotees visit the prominent shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabrimala, where the occasion is celebrated at a grand level. Located amidst verdant forests of Sahyaadri in Pathanamthita district of Kerala, Sabrimala welcomes a myriad of pilgrims who come to the place in a large number to attend the grand celebration. Unlike other temples of Kerala, Sabrimala temple is not open for pilgrimage throughout the year. While other religious destinations do not have strict dress code, Sabrimala has stricter and elaborated rules.
Usually, Sabrimala temple is open for 5 days, which is from the first of each Malayalam calendar month. In addition to Mandala Pooja, there are many other occasions including the major festivals of Kerala when the temple remains open and the Pooja is conducted. The only period when the temple is continuously open for a longer time is during Mandala Pooja.
Vrutham and austerity are the necessary components of Mandala Pooja, which are firmly followed by traditional and orthodox people. The austerities set are stiff for the individuals who wish to participate in the Mandala Pooja at Sabrimala shrine. Devotes intending to make pilgrimage at Sabrimala are required to observe vratha or austery for 41 days. The vratha begins with a follower putting the Rudraksha Mala and Thulasi Mala along with a dollar of Lord Ayyappa. Once an individual acquires the Mala, he or she is strictly expected to adhere to abstinence, avoiding all sorts of pleasures. The devotees are given a dress code so that they can easily be recognized as Ayyappa followers, making it easy for others not to indulge in any activity that could hinder the purification process of the disciples.
As per the set daily routine, the Ayyappa devotees are required to wake up early in the morning and take bath, following which they have to apply sandal paste on their forehead and worship the Lord along with other family idols. The same process is to be repeated in the evening as well. The followers after commencing the vratha are regarded as Ayyappans or Swami. The period of vratha can either be of 41 days or 56 days, depending on the pilgrim. Majority of the devotees observe fast for 41 days. The Mandal Pooja is conducted in Sabrimala temple on 41st day. After the Mandala Pooja, Makara Vilakku is another main celebration in Sabrimala. The temple remains closed in between the period of Mandala Pooja and Makara Vilakku. A few individuals observe austerity till the 1st of Makaram month of the Malayalam calendar.
Rules of fasting
Fasting is an essential part of Mandala Pooja and continues for a period of 41 days. While all men are allowed to observe the vratha, females between the age of 1 to 9 and above 50 are appropriate for fasting. Such females are known as Malikapuram, meaning “Shakti of Lord Ayyappa). Those who intend to take part in fasting are firmly needed to adhere to certain rules. Below mentioned include some of them.
- Throughout the period of vratha, the followers are required to have mind, body and soul free from worldly pleasures.
- Smoking and intake of alcohol must be strictly avoided. Besides, non-vegetarian food should also be ignored at every cost.
- Devotees must make sure to offer prayers twice a day, ensuring that they do not hurt the feelings of any individual in any way.
It is believed that correct fasting makes it easy to rinse out the inner soul of an individual. Thus, every pilgrim follows the rules strictly.
Closing of Mandala Pooja
The 41 day long celebrated festival of Mandala Pooja comes to an end with the offering of Kalabhaattam, which is a combination of sandal paste, saffron, camphor and rose water. The mixture is bestowed on the divinity. The offering is made to Lord Ayyappa only once in a year. The rajas of Zamorins are the only one to get this opportunity.
Mandala Pooja celebration at Guruvayur
Similar to Sabrimala, a large number of devotees throng the temple of Guruvayur to celebrate the auspicious occasion of Mandala Pooja. Varied rituals and exceptional rites are conducted in the Guruvayur temple premises. Panchagavya, which is the blend of five products of cow, including the cow milk, ghee, curd, cow dung and urine is used for the Abhisekham every day during the period of Mandala Pooja. The mixture of all these products is believed to possess curative and purification properties. The famous setting up of the Melpathur, Kuchela day, Guruvayur Ekadasi festival and Narayaneeyam day are also conducted in the Guruvayur Temple during Mandala Pooja.
When to celebrate Mandala Pooja in 2014
The auspicious day of Mandala Pooja is falling on 27 December in 2014.
When to celebrate Mandala Pooja in 2015
27 December marks the celebration of Mandala Pooja in 2015.
When to celebrate Mandala Pooja in 2016
The grand occasion of Mandala Pooja falls on 26 December in 2016.