- Fulfill all good, honest wishes and desires of the devotees.
- Grant good health to the worshipper and their loved ones.
- Bestow prosperity and success upon the devotees.
- Controls the malefic effects of Shani (Saturn).
- Minimize effects of Sade Sati.
Ayyappan is a Hindu deity popular in Kerala. He is also known as Sastha or Dharmasastha or Manikandan. Ayyappa is considered to be the ruler of the universe, alongside Vishnu and Shiva, as he is considered to be the union of Mohini (Vishnu) and Shiva. Ayyappa is known for being the celibate epitome of dharma, truth and righteousness, called upon to end all evil from the world. He is widely worshipped by all religious communities, including Muslims and Christians in Kerala. The most important festival related to him is Makaravilakku (Makar Sankranti), observed around the winter solstice, usually in January.
Legend Behind the Ayyappan Puja
According to tales from long ago, divine beings Datta and Lila visited the Earth as humans. After some time, Datta wanted to return to the divine realm but Lila enjoyed her life on Earth and Datta’s company, hence, wanted to stay longer. Datta cursed her in anger to become a Mahishasuri (water buffalo demoness). Lila, in turn, cursed him to become Mahishasur (water buffalo demon).
Mahishasuri did severe penance to God Brahma and obtained a boon that only someone who is born to Gods Shiva and Vishnu will be able to kill her. As they were 2 male Gods, they couldn’t produce an offspring together and Mahishasuri began thinking of herself as indestructible, committing all kinds of atrocities on Earth.
Meanwhile, Bhasmasur, a demon gained a deadly boon from Shiva that whoever’s head Bhasmasur chooses to place his hand on, will turn to ashes. Once gaining the boon, Bhasmasur tried to test its efficacy on Shiva himself. Realizing the fatal situation, Shiva rushed to Vishnu for help. Vishnu then assumed the form of Mohini, a bewitching, beguiling beauty and stood in front of Bhasmasur, who was in hot pursuit of Shiva.
Bhasmasur is enchanted by Mohini’s charms, and began doing whatever she wanted, ultimately ending up placing his hand over his own head. True to the boon, he turned to ashes immediately. Relieved, Shiva is deeply impressed with her and hence, the spiritual union of the 2 Gods happened, resulting in a divine child Ayyappa, who was later found by king Raja Rajashekara Pandiyan of Pandalam.
He was brought up by the childless king as his own son as Manikanthan, named after the bead tied around his neck. Even when a son was later born to the king, he still considered Manikanthan as his elder son and wanted to announce him as the crown prince. The queen, under the influence of an evil minister, objected to the decision.
The minister had advised her to crown her disabled younger son for the position. As the younger prince was unable to perform kingly duties, the minister thought his path to become the king was clear. Concocting a plan with the queen, he persuaded her to feign an illness and got the physician to prescribe tigress’ milk as the cure.
Manikanthan, when hearing of this dilemma, volunteers to go fetch it from the forest when no one dared undertake such a dangerous mission. Upon entering, he encountered the demoness Mahishasuri, fought a fierce battle and destroyed her. The corpse of the demoness turned into the beautiful Lila, having been freed of the curse.
The Gods and Goddesses in the heaven realm were tremendously pleased with the annihilation of Mahishasuri and took the form of tigers and tigresses, on which Manikanthan rode to the palace. The king and everyone realized the greatness and divinity of the handsome young boy, and bowed to him in respect.
The king wanted to make a shrine in honor of Manikanthan, so for the purpose of the location, Manikanthan shot an arrow that fell 30 km away. He then transformed into Ayyappan, and the location where the arrow fell was transformed as an Ayyappan shrine where millions of devotees visit as a site of major pilgrimage on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.
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