By God?s grace this is the 3rd time I have been blessed with an opportunity to be on abstinence for Lord Ayyappa, who resides in the holy mountains of Sabarimala, Kerala. With my meager knowledge about religion and my amateur insight into spirituality, I take this opportunity to let you guys know what exactly I came to know about the whole process, and why this abstinence is needed at the first place.
Both Ayyappa and non-Ayyappa bhaktas (who are interested in visiting the shrine) meet up with a Guruswami (Guruswami is one who has been to Sabarimala at least 18 times taking the long route) on 1st of Kartik (Karthik is Hindu month, which falls somewhere in mid-November every year), and start their abstinence by wearing malas made of Tulsi, Rudrakshas or Crystals. The 48 days period of fasting is called one mandala, and it is a temporary sanyasa a person takes up.
The strict disciplines that have to be followed during this period are ?
1) Men of all age groups can start their abstinence, but not all women. Only young girls and old women ? who don?t have their menstrual cycle are allowed to visit the shrine.
2) The attire during the abstinence period should be black, saffron or blue in colour. Only a waisty (cloth tied around the waist), and a towel are allowed during the period. And also the disciple is allowed to have only 2 pairs of cloth.
3) The disciple is supposed to sleep on the floor without any bed, bed sheets or pillows.
4) He should eat only at one place till he leaves for the pilgrimage. Eating at home should be avoided if someone at home is running her monthly periods.
5) Non-vegetarian food, smoke, booze, pan masalas and betel leaves have to be avoided completely.
6) Skipping either breakfast or lunch or dinner is advisable.
7) The disciple is not supposed to wear any footwear during the fasting period.
8) Sex, movies, TV, and any kind of entertainment related things should be avoided completely.
9) Social events like ? birthday parties, marriages, and other functions should not be attended.
10) Also a disciple is not supposed to attend any funerals. If he does, his abstinence comes to an end.
11) Ideally a disciple is not supposed to get angry or yell at people and if he does, he immediately is supposed to take bath.
1) The disciple has to get up during Brahma Muhurta (the period between 4 am and 7 am), take bath in cold water, apply vibhuti (ash) and sandal paste on this forehead and chant 108 names of Lord Ayyappa.
2) The same has to be followed in the evening too. Food has to be taken only after the puja is completed.
3) The disciple should also go to a temple everyday to light the camphor for the God.
Articles to follow ?
The external changes and their scientific implications
The real meaning of 18 steps of Sabarimala