Vavar mosque and Sabarimala Temple
Do scriptures, myths or histories back up religious violence and riots? Of course not.
Actually they show how interconnected Indian religions are.
Here is the story of Lord Ayyappa (also known as Shastha, Manikanthan or Sastavu) residing in Sabarimala (mount of Sabari), Pathanamthitta district in Kerala.
What makes this deity special is that, before visiting Lord Ayyappa one needs to visit the abode of Vavar, the abode of a dear friend of Ayyappa who happens to be a muslim.
Both the temple and the mosque is on the banks of River Pampa. Though the myth of Ayyappa has very strong allusions to Hindu traditions, people from all religions and castes are allowed to visit the place making it one of the biggest temples in South India.
Vavar Swami Mosque At Erumely
A God sans Religion
Lord Ayyappa has no particular religion.
A muslim shrine dedicated to Vavar, Ayyappa’s best friend is situated near Sabarimala at Erumely.
There are many legends surrounding Vavar. Some say he was a muslim saint who migrated to India.
Vavar’s role in Ayyappa’s conquests of the demoness Mahishi was pivotal. The devotion of Vavaraswami points out the relevance of Ayyappa devotion for members of all faiths, and the equality shown to all, whether they are Muslims, Hindus or Christians.
It is believed that Lord Ayyappa instructed the Pandalam royal family to build a mosque. Erumely is the gateway to Sabarimala, the hillock shrine of Lord Ayyappa. This place is very famous for ‘Pettathullal’, a kind of mass spiritual dance perform by Ayyappa devotees.
Pettathullal is performed in the Makaravilaku season, i.e., from mid December to mid January every year to commemorate the annihilation of a ‘Mahishi’ by Lord Ayyappa.
Devotees at River Pampa
A Different Myth
There are more curious facts surrounding Lord Ayyappa.
The purpose of Lord Ayyappa’s birth was to defeat Mahishi, a demoness. Mahishi got a boon from Lord Brahma that no one except the son of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu will be able to kill her, i.e., no one (or so she thought).
Lord Vishnu took his female form as Mohini and seduced Lord Shiva and thus Lord Ayyappa was born as the son of Hari and Hara (no frowns, it is a part of the myth).
This child was adopted by the Pandalam Royal dynasty who ruled the area. After fulfilling his destiny he went to Sabarimala hills and resided there.
Images of Pettathullal
One criticism the temple faces is that no woman between the age of 12 and 50 is supposed to enter the temple. A woman can enter the temple, before menarche or after menopause. This is because, Ayyappa happens to be a brahmachari and is forbidden contact of a woman.
18 Steps at Sabarimala Temple
The pilgrimage to Sabarimala is a rigorous task.
After forty one days without alcohol, meat, shaving and sex, swamis climb the mountain barefoot.
Once you leave from your homes for the pilgrimage the swamis would survive on minimal food most probably they cook for themselves.
Devotees travel in groups along with family and friends which might include people of all religions.
The temple is an excellent example for religious brotherhood and acceptance of all religions without any boundaries. #EDBrotherhoodWeek
There you go!
Even our mythology and Gods endorse religious friendship and brotherhood with other religions.
Why should we turn blind to these examples and be herded in the political propaganda following the age old divide and rule British policy so that a few can take over power by doing nothing.
It is high time we learn our religions, myths and philosophy well and comprehend their messages without any religious god men fooling us.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.