Ayyappan Mandala Pooja 2010@ Ealing Amman Temple
Mandala Pooja celebrations continues for a period of 41 days beginning from first day of the Malayalam month of Vrishchikam (November-December) and culminating on eleventh day of Dhanu (December-January). During this period devotees make a pilgrimage to the famous shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala. As a tradition, those visiting Sabarimala also visit the temple at Guruvayur. Mandala Pooja signifies 41 days of austerities. Main Mandala pooja is conducted on the 41st day after the 1st of Vrichikam.
Ideally Vruthum should be of 41 days in which devotee must lead a simple and pious life. Vruthum starts from the day the devotee wears Tulasi or Rudraksha Mala with a locket of Lord Ayyappa till he makes a pilgrimage to Sabarimala and removes the Mala. Between the period of wearing of Mala and taking it off, the devotee is called ‘Ayyappan’ or ‘Swami’. In this period devotee should keep his mind and body clean and pure and must restrain from indulging in worldly pleasures. Devotees must not smoke or consume alcohol and non-vegetarian food. He must abstain from sex, pray twice during the day and should not hurt the feelings of others. It is believed that proper vruthums help to cleanse the soul of a devotee and pilgrimage without proper vruthums is not advised. Female between the age of 1-9 and 50 above are also eligible for vruthum and are called ‘Malikapuram’ ( The Shakti of Lord Ayyappa).