I did not get much sleep the previous night. Been waiting for 15 long days for this very moment. I anxiously kept checking my mobile on the bed, 4 am; 420; 500; 530am. I jumped out of my bed, freshened up, took a good long bath and visited 3 temples. My cousin was due to arrive from Muscat; the phone rang at 0930; my cousin had reached home. We decided to meetup at 11am.
Our house was in a mess with all the work going on and I scrambled out with all I needed. Clad in a saffron mundu, the lamp was lit at home, and the women blessed the men for a safe journey – we drove over to the temple to get the Sacred Irumudi Kettu ; marked the beginning of the journey breaking a coconut. Swaaamiyaaaaaeeee Sharanamayyappa!!
This year’s trip turned out be a day affair unlike last year, when we did most of the travelling in the night. Our first halt was at the usual restaurant in Kottarakkara where we had ‘Oonu‘ [Meal]. After around 2.5 hrs drive, we reached a place called Manimalayaar – here we usually take a bath to cleanse our body before we begin the climb from Pamba. 4 of us were below 30s and as always the older Swamis had to force us out of the water to head back en route to Pamba.
After a half hour swim there, we were back on track and after another 1.5 hours, we had reached Pamba. The roads were much better than I anticipated and the ride was not too bumpy. Usually the moment we pass the toll booth, there would be plenty of vehicles lined up, however with 2 days still to go for the festival to begin, the crowd was surprisingly less. We took a dip at Pamba, and embarked barefoot on a 1hour 45min climb up [chanting Lord Ayyappa hymns and songs] to reach the Sannidhaanam. During the climb, one delicacy I just simply can’t seem to avoid are the Pineapple slices sprinkled with chilly-salt powder mix. Not only hydrates, but gives me a lot of energy for the climb.
At around 640pm, we managed to reach just outside the temple. There was not much crowd and we did not have to wait perennially in the aisle leading up to the body scans. The Padi Pooja is something I had never witnessed before. It was an amazing feeling to sing the 18 padi pooja song while the Pooja was being done, and the feeling can’t be put to words.
This is only the second time that I have been to sabarimala, but clearly I was happier to have had a much longer darshanam this time around. The stone hard Unni appam alongwith the Aravanam were bought. We climbed down the mala and reached Pamba at 1o30pm, a little too late for dinner anywhere. Eventually we halted at a ‘Thattukada’ at Adoor and finally reached home late at 2am.
March has so far been a very kind month to me. Managed to visit both Guruvayur and Sabarimala. Will end this post with my favorite quote
Work as if everything depended upon Man and pray as if everything depended upon God 🙂