Neyyabhishekam holds utmost significance in the worship of Lord Ayyappa. This sacred ritual involves the use of ghee-filled coconuts. Commencing at 4 AM and continuing until the Ucha Pooja at 1 PM, devotees engage in this ceremony. Following their darshan of Lord Ayyappa and the upa-prathistas, groups of Ayyappa pilgrims, guided by the guru swamy (the most senior pilgrim), arrange a viri (a sheet spread on the ground) and place all the ghee-filled coconuts on it.
After bathing in Bhasmakkulam (the pond behind the sannidhanam), the team leader, typically a guru swamy, cracks open all the ghee-filled coconuts and collects the ghee in a vessel for offering it in the sree kovil (sanctum sanctorum).
The priest, after performing the Neyyabhishekam, returns a portion of the ghee to the devotee. The ghee obtained from the sree kovil is regarded as a divine prasadam. For those devotees who don’t bring ghee-filled coconuts, the Devaswom board has made arrangements for obtaining adiyashistam neyyu.
Ghee symbolizes the human soul, and through the abhishekam of ghee on Lord Ayyappa, the soul unites with the Supreme Being. The jeevatma represents the ghee, and the paramatma is embodied in Lord Ayyappa.
Once the ghee is extracted from the coconut, the coconut symbolizes jadam or a lifeless body. This is why the coconut is subsequently offered in the large aazhi or fire-place in front of the temple.
Padi Pooja is a sacred ritual that involves the worship of the 18 holy steps known as ‘pathinettampadi.’ This ritual takes place on specific days following the ceremonial bathing of the idol, referred to as ‘pushpabhiskeham.’ The Padi Pooja is typically conducted in the evening and is officiated by the tantri in the presence of the melsanthi (priest). The hour-long ceremony entails adorning the Holy Steps with flowers and silk fabrics while illuminating traditional lamps on each step. It concludes with the tantri performing the ‘aarathi’.
The term ‘Udayasthamaya’ directly translates to ‘from sunrise to sunset.’ Therefore, it signifies a continuous worship that spans from sunrise in the morning to sunset in the evening. The Udayasthamana Pooja is observed throughout the day, commencing with the Nirmalyam at dawn and concluding with the Athazha Pooja at dusk. In addition to the daily rituals, this worship includes special poojas involving Archanas and Abhishekams, all conducted to seek the divine blessings of the presiding deity, which are believed to grant the devotees the fulfillment of their wishes. Within this worship, there is a total of 18 poojas, with 15 occurring before noon, and it involves an impressive 45 kalasabhishekams.
Sahasrakalasam is a sacred ritual dedicated to Hariharaputhra (Sri Dharmashastha) according to the principles of the Tantric Veda and Agama Shastras. Its purpose is to seek blessings for the well-being and happiness of humanity. This noble endeavor aims to invoke the divine energies by utilizing sacred elements such as incense, precious and semiprecious stones, the seven seas, and the holy rivers, all of which are ceremoniously placed within a consecrated vessel made of gold, silver, copper, and more.
The Ulsava Bali rituals commence with the resonating call of the Paani, a ceremonial invocation aimed at summoning the Bhoothaganams, the divine associates of the presiding deity. Following this, the temple tantri initiates the symbolic act of spreading cooked raw rice (known as Ulsava Bali Thooval) to envelop the sacred stones (balikallu) dedicated to the Bhoothaganams situated around the Naalambalam and Balikkalpura. Once the ritualistic rice scattering over the Saptha Maathrukkal is complete, the Thidambu, representing the presiding deity, is brought out from the inner sanctum, allowing devotees the opportunity to offer their prayers. Ulsava Bali is an integral part of the annual festivities at the Lord Ayyappa Temple.
Floral anointment, known as Puspabhishekam, is a sacred ritual in which flowers are showered upon Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala. The flowers and leaves used in this ceremony include Tamara (lotus), Jamanthi (chrysanthemum), Arali, Tulsi (basil), Mulla (jasmine), and Kuvalam (bilva leaves). Devotees desiring to partake in the Puspabhishekam at Sabarimala are required to make advance reservations. The cost associated with performing this sacred ritual is Rs.10,000/-.
Ashtabhishekam stands as a significant ritual offering to Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala, comprising the use of eight essential items.
Tender coconut water
Sandalwood or Chandanam
Rosewater or Panineer
(Kindly be aware that the Ashtabhishekam ritual practiced in Hinduism can differ between temples.)
Kalabhabhishekam is a highly significant ceremonial worship conducted to enhance the spiritual energy of the deity. During Kalabhabhishekam, the head priest, known as the tantri, performs the Kalabhakalasa pooja at the Nalambalam in the presence of the melsanthi. The concluding act of Kalabhakalasabhishekam involves anointing the idol of Lord Ayyappa with sandalwood paste during the Ucha pooja, performed by the tantri following the procession of the golden urn containing sandal paste for Kalabhabhishekam around the sree kovil.
ARCHANA entails the recitation and exaltation of the Divine name, while LAK signifies 100,000. Consequently, LAKSHARCHANA refers to the collective repetition of the Lord’s name in the form of a Mantra.
Subsequently, the tantri, with the assistance of the melsanthi and other priests, conducts Laksharchana at the Sannidhanam. The ‘Brahmakalasam’ from the laksharchana is ceremoniously carried in a procession to the inner sanctum for ‘abhishekam’ before the ‘uchapuja.’