The hereditary chief priests of Sabarmala called Tantris, who are the virtual custodians of the ritualistic worship at Sabarimala come from this illustrious family.It is believed that they were conferred these rights by the Pandala Raja ever since the Sabarmala temple was consecrated in its present form.

According to popular legend Sage Parashurama identified two brothers on the banks of the Krishna in today’s Andhra Pradesh as ideal persons for doing tantric pooja in temples of the present Kerala,which he is believed to have created out of his divine axe.In order to test the supremacy of the two Brahmin brothers,he is said to have asked them to cross the river using their ascetic prowess.One among the brothers walked over the water without drowning,the other is said to haveforced the river to separate to make way for a path so that he could walk over its sanda to the other end,The first was known as Tharaneloor,Tharanam in Malayalam meaning to cross over,and the other was known as Thazhamon meaning to have walked across its river bed over the sand.SageParasurama is believed to have given the rights to Tharananeloor to lord over tantric rituals in temples over the northern half of Kerala,andThazhamon the southern half.SageParashurama is said to have conferred the title of Kantararu on the Thazhamon family.

Many illustrious and pious people have come from the family as tantric of Sabarimala.As per recorded history KantararuPrabhakararu consecrated the idol of Dharmasastha at Sabarimala in 1909 after the first accident of the last century.Forty one years later in June 1950,when the temple was defiled and its idol broken by vandals,a new idol of Dharmasastha was moulded by ThattavilaNeelakantaPanicker and ThattavilaAyyappaPanicker,and,this was consecrated on the 18th May 1952 by the illustrious KantararuShankararu.It is this image of Dharmasastha who is identified in Sabarimala with Ayyappa that is the cynosure of crores and crores of Ayyappabhaktas the world over.KantararuShankararu has the rare distinction of consecrating the first ever idol of lord Ayyappan outside Kerala which was at Jalahalli in Bangaluru in 1967.Today JalahalliAyyappan Temple is one of the most famous Ayyappa temples in Bangalore.Among those who were present at the pratishta of the present idol at Sabarimala on May 18th 1952,only KantararuMaheswararu survives.

Apart from the legendary
KantararuShankararu,KantarauParameshwararu,KantararuKrishnaru,KantararuNeelakantararu,KantararuMaheswararu and KantararuMohanaru were part of the permanent ritualistic tradition of Sabarmala over the years during their yearly tenure by turns.The present tantris who occupy the position by turns over a period of one year are Kantararu Mahesh Mohanaru and KantarauRajeevaru.

pandalam family

The story of Shabarimala and Lord Ayyappa is intrinsically linked to the little kingdom of Pandalam where Lord Ayyappa spent his childhood and adolescence in humble servitude to the King.Pandalam is actually a corrupted version of PADMA DALA PURAM,which is its actual name.ThePandalam royalty are the descendants of the Pandyan royalty of Madurai,who at a point of time had to flee Madurai due to internal strife and threats posed by their own ministers.The Royal house of Pandalam was believed to have been founded in the Malayalam Era 79,corresponding to 903 A.D.As a reminder to its illustrious past,thePandalam Royalty considers and worships Madurai Meenakshi as their paradevata or family God along with Shasta.The Royal family of Pandalam belongs to the Bhargavagotra,while other royal families of Kerala belong to the Vishwamitragotra.The kingdom of Pandalam was also known as AiyroorSwaroopam and its rulers held the title AirurSreeVeerasreedharaKoilAdhikarikal.

The Pandalam kings were one of the most peace loving in the Cheracountry.The land they acquired and ruled were brought for money from local chieftains when they came from Madurai to settle in the Cheracountry.Pandalam was a small full fledged kingdom extending to over 1000 square miles headquartered on the banks of river Achenkovil stretching eastward covering forests and mountain ranges including the holy Sabarimala and the 18 holy hills connected to it.

The rulers of Pandalam had cordial relations with the kings of Travancore.AfterTipu’s invasion and ransack of Malabar in 1789,Pandalam was asked to pay an amount of Rs 2,20,001 towards the cost of war.This resulted in ceding the whole of its territory to Travancore including the SabarimalaTemple.The Travancore Royalty promised to look after the welfare of the family members of the Pandalam royalty befitting their status.In the process,though the income from the Sabarimala Temple vested with Travancore,the inherent rights and priveliges of the Pandalam royalty with regard to the Sabarimala Temple were not tampered with including the priceless Thiruvabharanams of Lord Ayyappaswamy.

Pandalam literally breathes and lives with the memories of Lord Ayyappan.The priceless Thiruvabharanams of Lord Ayyappan are still in the custody of the royal house,being safely kept in its strong room.Even today the representative of the Pandalarajadoes not stand in front of the Lord,lest the Lord gets up from His meditation to respect His father’s descendants according to popular belief.The king of pandalam never goes to Sabarmala for the very same reason.

Presently the Pandalam palace is governed by a Palace trust which has ShriSasikumarvarma as President Shri Raja RajaVarma as Secretary and SmtDeepaVarma as Treasurer.


The kingdom of pandalam which included among other tracts of forest lands and temples,the famed Sabarimala shrine of Ayyappan was pledged to Travancore being part of the war expenses payable by Pandalam during the time of Tipu’s invasion of Malabar.The Travancore Royalty however,never interfered in the customs and traditions of the Sabarimala Temple and the rights and priveliges of the Pandalam Royalty vis-à-vis the Sabarimala Temple.Hence the Thiruvabharanam continued to be kept in safe custody at the Pandalam palace,and the Pandala Raja continued to send his representative to Sabarimala accompanying the thiruvabharanam for Makaravilakku,though the Sabarimala temple was part of the Kingdom of Travancore.

An important aspect soon after the takeover of Pandalam by Travancore need be mentioned.In those days the number of pilgrims to Sabarimala was very less. According to the late Maharajah H.E. Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma,the Kawdiar palace used to sponsor a Kanni Ayyappan to Sabarimala every year without a break with irumudi.It was the nei mudra from the Kawdiar palace that was offered for neiabhishekam at the holy feet of Lord Ayyappaswamy during the makara sankrama pooja.This practice continues unhindered to this day.The first neiabhishekam performed after the makara sankrama pooja is from the neimudra sent from Kawdiar palace in Trivandrum.

The connection of the Sabarimala Temple with the Travancore Royalty does not end here.When the holy idol od Sree Dharma Shasta was broken beyond repair in June 1950,the present vigraham or idol was modeled after the little idol of Dharmasastha in the personal possession of then yuvaraja H.E.Uthradam Thirunal Maharaja.The yuvaraja took a photograph of the idol in his possession,to which poojas were performed regularly,and sent it to the Thattavila family of Chengannur for getting a fresh idol done.Shri Uthradam Thirunal was a great Ayyappa bhakti.So too was the famed artist of world renown Raja Ravi Varma of Kilimanoor palace,whose painting of Ayyappan as Pulivahanan ,captioned Bhootanath is very famous.


On the Kochambalam-Valiyambalam path through which Sabarimala pilgrims perform the pettathullal ,stands the hoary Puthenveedu.Situated next to the now defunct Ayyappa talkies,a small winding path leads us to a cluster of houses with a common family name Puthenveedu.In between these houses a small hut like structure on a raised platform,carefully preserved strikes every devotee who visits the holy dwelling,where Lord Ayyappaswamy as the prince of pandalam stayed overnight.Erumely derieves its name from Eruma Kolly meaning the place where the buffalo was killed.According to history,Lord Ayyappan ,the prince of Pandalam got to know that the people of the village of Erumely were living in constant fear due to the havoc caused by a powerful rogue buffalo,which had a penchant for goring human beings particularly males to death.As a result many male members left the place or used to go elsewhere every night.One day at dusk Lord Ayyappaswamy arrived at Puthenveedu,where as expected only a grandmother was staying.The lord asked her permission if he could stay there for the night.The old lady consented,but warned the teenager about the consequences.Strangely,the teenager looked hardly perturbed.At the dead of the night ,the young visitor left the house .The next morning the old lady found a neatly washed sword left behind by the teenager,who was not to be seen anywhere.Soon the old lady learned that the rogue buffalo was done to death by the divine lad.The place where the sword was washed was later known as Rudirakulam in Erumely,where the water has a reddish tinge.Even after three and a half centuries the little room where Lord Ayyappaswamy rested for the night is preserved with utmost faith.This house is known as Puthen Veedu.The Puthen Veedu family originally owned the Petta Shasta shrine commonly known as Kochambalam,from where the petta thullal starts.The present head of the family is Sri. PerusserryPillai.

Sri. Perusserry Pillai
Puthen Veedu,
Ph: 9496221931, 04828210931


No story of Sabarimala is complete without a mention of the two important groups –Alangad and Ambalapuzha who have special rights conferred on them by the Raja of Pandalam,eversince the pilgrimage began in the way we see it today.Factually Alangad Yogam headquartered at Chembola Kalari at Alangad ,a small village some 6 kms from Aluva is presumed torepresent the pithru stanam or the father’s place of Lord Ayyappan.It is believed that Swamy Ayyappan came personally to this ancient kalari some three and a half centuries ago to train himself and handpick expert kalari warriors to fight the powerful outlaw of Karimala,Udayanan.Swamy Ayyappan had chosen among others Kampilly Panicker to lead the Alangad forces,though Swami Ayyappan was himself at the helm unarmed,as the de facto leader of the Alangad army.It is also believed that Kampilly Panicker first uttered the two words SHARANAM AYYAPPA, which was a precursor to the sharanam villi or the sharana gosham in the way we call today,as ,the army crossed the dense forests beyond Erumeli.Kampilly Panicker is believed to have been anointed as the first oracle of Sabarimala.

The SPECIAL NEIABHISHEKAM and PANTHEERADI POOJA performed exclusively by the Alangad Yogam on the seond of makaram ,the day after the makaravilakku,are part of the special priveliges accorded to them by Lord Ayyappaswamy and the Raja of Pandalam,along with their thalappoli and ezhunallathu from Manimandapam.In the old days one full day used to be given to the Yogam for their nei abhishekam and pantheerazhi pooja,with no other bhakti being allowed on the thirumuttam,but with the passage of time and the huge crowds,this has been drastically reduced to a couple of hours.In all special functions at Sabarimala and at Erumely for the famous pettathullal a couple of days before makaravilaku,the Alangad Yogam is distinguished by the golaka and kodi presented to them by the Raja of Pandalam centuries ago.In the pettathullal at Erumely,the Alangad Yogam members are clad in white dhotis and smear only bhasmam and chandanam on themselves and do not use colours.Alangad Yogam do not enter the Vavar’s mosque at Erumeli,on the presumption that Vavar has already left with Amalapuzha Yogam to Sabarimala.In the old days the last pettathullal at Erumeli was of the Alangad Yogam,after the Alangad Petta nobody used to do the ritualistic dance of petta thullal.The yogam’s hereditary temple the Kampilly Muppathadom Dharmasastha Temple is located a few kilometres away from the Chembolakalari,from the yogam’s sabarimala yatra starts every year.The present Periavan of Alangad Yogam is Kunnukara Rajappan Nair and the Yogam Velichapad or Oracle is Kampilly Shankaran Venugopal.

Sri.Kunnukara Rajappan Nair
Ph: 8606602919
Sri. Kampilly Sankaran Venugopal
Ph: 9847205078


The place and the suburbs of what is today called Muhamma near Cherthala in the Alapuzha district of Kerala was once known as a small fiefdom called Karappuram,which was ruled by a Brahmin King.In order to strengthen his army and lift the morale of his soldiers,he started a martial arts training centre.As instructor and chief trainer it is believed that he brought famed kalari guru from Tulunad called Cheeran.He gifted vast tracts of land to Cheeran to help him set up a Kalari school.The King also exempted Cheeran from paying taxes on the land he was gifted.

Cheeran settled in Karappuram along with his family.He also consecreated his family deities Goddess Bhadra,Lord Shiva,Lord Subramanya and Lord Hanuman along with other gods of war.Cheeran and his nephew Yappan together ran the kalari which was known as CHEERYAPPAN CHIRA,which in the course of time became Cheerapanchira.Cheerapanchira used to train only youngsters from Karappuram fiefdom.Those from other kingdoms were not admitted.

Ayyappaswamy comes to know of the expertise of Cheerapanchira especially in a type of fifgting skill known as Poozhiangam.Immediately he sets forth to Cheerapanchira,when due to the vagaries of fate he loses way to the Kalari,at which point he meets Arthungal Velutha an alumini of Cheerapanchira in a roadside resting place for travellers.Arthungal Velutha dissuades Ayyappan on the ground that only Karappuram residents are admitted.Ayyappan adamantly insists that he be granted an audience with the Guru.Finally Velutha finding Ayyappan’s divine charm irresistible agrees.Together they go to the Kalari,and since the Kalari Panicker(guru) is busy his talented daughter Poomkodi also called Lalithambika interviews Ayyappan.Ayyappan is introduced to Poomkodi as Veluth’s cousin Sabariyar.They are asked to stay for the night,and,the next day Ayyappan is introduced to the Kalari guru Cheerapanchira Kumara Panicker.Some scholars say that the guru’s name was Chenna Panicker.Though Panicker suspects initially about Sabariyar’s background,Sabariyar’s divine personage draws the guru towards Sabariyar.Soon Sabariyar becomes his favourite disciple.In no time Sabariyar learns and masters Poozhiangam.Poomkodi requests Sabariyar to marry her,which is politely refused by Sabariyar on the ground that He has taken an oath of celibacy for life.He presents Poomkodi with a KADAKAVALA BANGLE as a token of remembrance of His stay at Cheerapanchira.

Soon an impending attack on Pandalam forces Sabariyar to leave for Pandalam without taking leave of the Guru,which leaves the guru in bad taste.Later before departure to Erumely to fight Udayanan,Sabariyar comes to meet His guru for blessings and help to fight Udayanan.Unfortunately the Guru was not present as he happened to go to his ancestral temple at Tulunad.Some scholars are of the opinion that Panicker’s family hailed from Badagara in North Malabar and not Tulunad,which was beyond river Chandragiri near Kasaragod.As proof of His coming to meet his Guru,He left behind his kacha and sword which are preserved to this date.

It is believed that Cheerappanchira helped the Pandalam forces in the battle against Udayanan.It is believed that long after the war Ayyappan had come to meet the then guru one early morning.When Ayyappan came,a woman was sweeping the compound with a broom.When Ayyappan asked for the then Guru,the lady pointed in the direction of the pond with her broom indicating that he had gone for his bath.Sensing something the Guru came back and questioned the lady,who indicated pointing to the direction that Ayyappan had returned.The bhakti that he was knew that it was Ayyappan.Later that night he had a dream in which Ayyappan indicated that a sandalwood log would be washed ashore from the nearby backwaters and theGuru could use it to build a temple for Ayyappan,in which three fourths of his chaithanyam would dwell throughout the year,and the remaining one fourths at Sabarimala.On makaravilakku day the Cheerappanchira shrine would be closed for full chaithanyam to dwell in Sabarimala.Thus came into existence the famed Mukkalvattom temple of Ayyappan at Cheerapanchira.

Cheerapanchira House, Muhamma Post, Alapuzha, Pin - 688 525
Ph: 9495069616.


Amabalapuzha Yogam,headquartered at Amalapuzha is presumed to represent the mathru stanam or the mother’s side of Lord Ayyappaswamy.Ambalapuzha Yogam also takes part in the famous Erumeli petta which is conducted a couple of days before Makaravilakku .The Ambalapuzha Yogam performs the petta thullal first,before Alangad.The Ambalapuzha Yogam bhaktas are clad in saffron,blue or black colour dhotis,and smear themselves with colour powder.The Amalapuzha Yogam enters the Vavar’s mosque at Erumely,where they are accorded a warm reception by the mosque governing committee.Together they proceed to the big temple or valiya ambalam at Ermely.The belief is Vavar is accompanying Ambalapuzha Yogam to Sabarimala.Ambalapuzha too has a special golaka for the Erumeli petta.

Ambalapuzha Yogam like Alangad enjoy special rights at Sabarimala.They too perform exclusive special poojas and ezhunallathu at Sannidhanam.The Mahanivedyam or Ellunivedyam that they offer to Lord Ayyappaswamy at Sannidhanam is well known.

Historically Ambalapuzha Yogam is the unified kalaris of Pandalam led by Kochukadutha and Vavar to fight Udayanan.The present periavan of Amabalapuzha Yogam is Kalathil Chandrasekharan Nair.

Sri. Kalathil Chandrasekharan Nair
(Samooha Periyon)
Ph: 0477 2271199
Sri.K Chandu
President Ambalapuzha Yogam
Ph: 9387899689
Sri.G Mohanan Nair
Secretary Ambalapuzha Yogam


Vavar was one of the most trusted lieutenants of Lord Ayyappaswamy in his epic battle against the powerful outlaw Udayanan of Karimala enroute to the punapratishta of Sabarimala temple.Initially was engaged in piracy in the high seas with calculated attacks on small kingdoms by the seashore.At times when he landed on the shores he did not hesitate to penetrate interior kingdoms if he was sure it was weak.Pandalam too came under a spell of attacks of this powerful pirate with a Robinhood visage(halo).A time came when the Pandalam monarchy came at its wits end to counter its menace,when the sixteen year old Ayyappan to it upon himself to face the threat face to face.The Pandalam king was circumspect initially,but the youngster’s confidence and aura put all his doubts to rest.Ayyappan was one day strolling the beaches of Purakkad near Alapuzha with a few trusted soldiers ,when he saw a speeding pirate ship heading for the shore.In no time,the ship neared the shore and many warriors alighted from the ship to small boats and sailed ashore.In no time Vavars reasonably large army had assembled on the shore ready for orders from their captain Vavar.As soon as Vavar set his foot on the shore an argument between Ayyappan and Vavar broke out ,whereupon Vavar challenged Ayyappan to test his skills in archery.Immediately Ayyappan aimed his arrow at the flagmast of Vavar’s ship,but the arrow missed the target fell and fell on the sands .Vavarwho was adept in mesmerism and magic had hoodwinked Ayyappan through his magical skills.This led to delirious laughter among Vavar and his pirates.Ayyappan was initially taken aback,but quickly composed himself and shot another arrow aimed at the first arrow,which in a moment brought both the arrows to rest at Vavar’s feet.Vavar was stunned.He had underestimated the 16 year old.Vavar then challenged Ayyappan for a one to one combat,Vavar armed with a sword and shield and Ayyappan with a churika and a shield.The duel is believed to have lasted 3 ½ nazikas,that is around 84 minutes.Incidentally 1 nazhika is 24 minutes.This duel ended in a stalemate.Vavar was struck by the divine grace of the youngster more than half his age.They promised to remain friends for life.

Vavar was totally charmed by Ayyappan’s divinity and grace.Vavar offered change his faith,to which the mahayogin that Ayyappan was,didn’t agree.Ayyappan insisted that faith was personal,and one should remain loyal to the faith one was a reminder and respect for the business which a reformed Vavar ran at Erumely,and,to pay respects born into,but God was one whom the wise called different names and it was unnecessary to change one’s faith to worship the Almighty.Vavar decided to reform himself after being influenced by Ayyappan.He decided to part with his old ways,and,Ayyappan helped him to do establish and run a business dealing with pepper in particular and spices in general in Erumely.He was also given permission to build a mosque in Erumely,to say his daily prayers. It is believed that this is precisely the reason why the ayyappa bhaktas carry pepper corns in their irumudi as to him at his mosque in Erumely with a request for protection in the dense forest enroute to Sabarimala.

Vavar and Kochukadutha are believed to have led the Ambalapuzha yogam in Ayyappaswamy’s battle against Udayanan.Though Vavar is identified with Erumeli,his ancestors who were Unani physicians belonged to Kanjirapally,from where a senior family member heads along with his other associates to man the Vavaru Nada,as chief priest even to this day.The present chief priest of Vavaru Nada is ShriAbdul Rasheed Musaliyar. The Vavarunada resembles a small khabaristan.It is believed that after the battle against Udayanan,Vavar returned to Erumeli to fulfill his business interests and in the last years of his life he is believed to have come to Sabarimala and breathed his last.He is believed to have been buried in Sabarimala.Initially Vavarunada was very near the Pathinettampadi,from where it was shifted to its present site.Today Vavaru Nada stands as a shining example of tolerance of faiths.

Sri.Abdul Rasheed Musaliar
Chief Vavar


Kochukadutha or literally the little Kadutha’s real name was Raman of Malamel Tharavadu,a nair household near Mundacavu near Chengannur.Kochukadutha was the best young kalari exponent in the Pandalam kingdom,and was talked about as the kingdom’s future commander in chief of the army.Kochkadutha initially belonged to the Injipara Kalari or the Injipara school pf martial arts,where he trained himself into a brilliant kalari warrior under the watchful eyes of VALIYA KADUTHA OR THE BIGGER KADUTHA,who was in overall charge of all the Kalaris under the kingdom of Pandalam.Kochukadutha along with Krishnan of Thalaparakalari were instrumental in breaking open the gates of the formidable Injipara fort,which was the first line of defence of the powerful forest brigand Udayanan .The Inchipara fort incidentally was under the control of the nearly invincible Pudussery Mundan ,one of Udayanan’s loyal and trusted aides.In the fierce battle that ensued at Inchipara,Ayyappan’s army emerged victorius,and Pudussery Mundan took to his heels.The valourous Kochukadutha followed behind Mundan,and on the banks of the Pudussery stream,in a fierce one to one combat Kochukadutha beheaded Pudussery Mundan,from when on the little stream was known after Mundan as the Pudussery thodu.Thodu is malayalam for stream.

It is believed that in the battle of Karimala ,the brave and loyal Kochkadutha lost both his legs and had to be literally carried by other soldiers first to Pamba,where the soldiers along with Ayyappaswamy is believed to have camped for a day or two for the Pamba Vilakku and Pamba Sadya,and,,later to Sannidhanam for the punapratishta.After the punapratishta was over and the soldiers were ready to leave,Kochukadutha is believed to have refused to return home,preferring to stay all alone in the dense forest and light a lamp everyday in front of his Lord Ayyappaswamy at Manimandapam.There is also a moving story of Kochkadutha having heard of a Marawa army fast approaching sannidhanam to destroy the idol of Dharmasastha yet again,somehow literally dragging himself upto the thirumuttam ,opening the door of the sanctum and literally clinging to the idol.It is believed that when finally the marawa soldiers arrived,they were moved by the sight of a severly handicapped braveheart clinging to the idol of his master he adored and loved.The marawas are believed to have spared Kochkadutha and the idol of Dharmasastha.

Till the early 1950’s,there was no temple and pratishta for Kochukadutha at Malikapuram,but only a sankalpam or assumption that Kochukadutha was ever present unseen.The family members of Malamel Tharavadu(Malayalam for ancestral house) used to bring a peetam and temporarily install it at around the place where the present temple for Kochukadutha stands at Malikapuram during the Makaravilakku Mahotsavam and conduct poojas till the closure of the Sabarimala shrine.The most important offering was the VELLAM KUDI RITUAL for Kochukadutha.After the closure of the Sabarimala shrine for the season,this peetam used to be taken back to the Malamel Tharavadu only to return for the next year’s festivities.This hereditary right of Kochukadutha’s family was revoked by the Dewaswom Board after they failed to submit documentary evidence regarding their hereditary rights when asked to do so.

To conclude,today the family of Kochukadutha is headed by Shri………………………………….The Malamel family have erected a little shrine for Kochukadutha in their tharavadu where daily poojas are performed.Even today the name of Kochukadutha evokes selfless Ayyappa bhakti in all its purity and innocence.


Manarcaud is a place not far from Kottayam,the transit point to Sabarimala.In the old days when Sabarimala was a dense forest difficult to approach,infested with wild animals,with no clearcut road,people well versed with martial arts and with military expertise used to accompany the entourage of tantris and melshantis to Sabarimala who used to normally reach Sabarimala by the 3rd of the Malayalam month of Dhanu(between Dec 16-19 approx) well before Mandala Pooja.These bodyguards of the poojakas to Sabarimala were called MANARCAUD SANGHOM.They customarily offer a bunch of coins at the thirunada as their humble offering to Ayyappaswamy.


During the times of Lord Ayyappaswamy’s earthly sojourn,His trusted lieutenant Vavar,was allowed to carry on trade in spices at Erumely.He was also given permission to build a mosque for his daily prayers.It is on that very place that the Juma Masjid stands today.Every Ayyappan going to Sabarimala was asked by Lord Ayyappaswamy himself to pay his respects to Vavar at Erumely before he set foot to Sabarimala.Hence even today,the devotee begins his pettakattu at Petta Shasta temple opposite the Vavar mosque,goes into the mosque ,pays his respects to Vavar,and then proceeds to the Valiambalam-the Erumeli Dharma Sasta Temple to complete the pettathullal.

President of Mahalla Muslim Jama-Ath , erumely


One of the most important rituals of Sabarimala performed just before the closure of the shrine after mandala-makaravilaku festivities is the valiya guruthi in front of Manimandapam near Malikapuram.From timeimmemorial this holy ritual, performed to ward off negative forces which may have accumulated during a pilgrim season, is performed by a family of Nair Kurups whose family name is KUNNAKKATIL based at Ranni.According to them,they originally hailed from Nilackal,when Nilakal was a village settlement,but had to subsequently move out to Ranni fearings attacks from forest brigands.Accordingly their paradevata is PALLIYARA BHAGAVATHY of Nilackal.Kunnakkat family performs the guruthi according to kaula sampradaya.Upto 1936,animal sacrifice was in vogue for the guruthi,when a goat was sacrificed.Post 1936 only gourd turmeric etc are used.The Valiya guruthi is performed for the bhootaganas of Lord Dhamasastha in front of the Manimandapam,after the closure of the Sabarimala and Malikapuram sreekovil.The melshantis of Sabarimala and Malikapuram do not attend the guruthi,though the Pandala Raja’s representative makes himself present.


The Thiruvabharanams packed in three sandalwood boxes called the Netoor Petti,the Kodi Petti and the Kudam petti are taken out from the strong room of the Srambikal Palace a day before the makaravilaku and is taken to the adjoining Valiakoikal Shasta temple for the customary pooja.After the poojas and ‘neeranjan uzhichil’,it is placed amid chants of sharanam vili on the heads of bearers traditionally designated for the purpose.The leader of the group of Thiruvabharanam bearers is Kulathingal Gangadharan Pillai who carries the Netturpetti packed with the Thiruvabharanams for Ayyappan.The Kudapetti bearing pooja utsensils and the Kodipetti bearing the flags of Thalaparamala and Udumpara mala and the Thidambu that is used for ezhunallthu are carried by other members of the twenty member team.

The thiruvabharanam procession normally starts around noon at 1 pm from Pandalam and via Kaipuzha, Kulanada, Ullanoor, Kuriyanipally Aranmula, Parayankara, Kootuvettical, Kavumpady and nKidangoor halts for the night at Airoor Puthiakavu Devi temple.Early next morning,the procession starts from Airoor and via Keekozhur, Aayikkal,Peroorchal, Ranni Perinad, Puthukada,Mandiram, Madamon,Pulickamoozhy, Edakulam,Kuthukallinpady and Vadasserikara halts for the night at Lahai IB.Early next morning after poojas by the tribal people on behalf of Thalaparamala,the procession sets off to sannidhanam via Plapally, Kollamoozhi, Elavumkal, Nilakal, Attathode, Vellachimala, Aattapetty,Oliyampuzha, Cheriyanavattom,Valianavattom. At Valiyanavattom, special poojas to the thiruvabharanams are done by devotees from Madurai after it is placed at a peedam specially built for the ceremony. From Valiyanavattomvia Appachimedu and Sharamkuthi, the procession reaches Sabarimala on time for the deeparadhana on makaravilakku day. The 20 members carry the three boxes by turns for the whole journey and back.On its return journey the thiruvabharanams are adorned on the Shasta idol at Kakkatkoickal Dharmasastha Temple at Ranni Perinad.


The Sabarimala utsavam or festival is celebrated during the Malayalam month of Meenam(March).The flag to be tied on the holy flagmast(kodimaram) is made by a Namboodiri family from Chengalam near Kottayam.The present person in charge for the making of the flag is Shree Chengalam Vadakkillath Ganapathi Namboodiri.The length of the Sabarimala temple flag is one third the length of the flagmast and is made of pure silk.The divine horse,the vehicle of Shasta is etched on it.Shri Ganapathy Namboodiri also makes temple flags for festivals in the famed temples of Ettumanoor,Aranmula,Ambalapuzha and Kumaranellur.

Ganapathi Namboodiri
Vadakkathu Illom_Flag Makers of Sabarimala