Now it’s mandalakalam, else the Sabarimala season. Getting Lord Ayyapa’s darshan at this time climbing the hills of Sabarimala will give all the prosperities in life; that’s the belief. Entry to the temple is restricted for women in the age group of 13-50. There is no cultural or religious bar in Sabarimala. Lakhs of people go as pilgrims to pay homage making it one of the richest temples.
There is a program in the temples of Malabar region known as Aghanadanamayagnam at this time. Devotees wearing black dance together chanting Lord Ayyapa’s mantra,
Raksha Raksha Mahabaho
Sasthedhubyam Namo Nama”
The event starts on a day morning and will wind up next morning. The devotee groups take turns in singing and dancing. The partakers of Aghanadanamam are then taken to Sabarimala when the program is over.
In order to take part in the ritual, a devotee has to undergo 41 days of fasting leaving non-vegetarian food. He has to wear black and control all his temptations during this course. This is done to make an individual know the sweetness that devotion provides and how momentary are the luxuries. He has to purify his mind and body before he gets darshan. And thus he is groomed into a perfect human. It’s not only to participate in Aghanadanamam, but anyone who wishes to go to Sabarimala has to practice.
In the case of Aghanadanamam, the event is a gathering of people from all divisions to help their friends to have a fine pilgrimage. It is almost like a temple fest with balloonwalas and other vendors capturing the streets near the venue. Aghanadanamam is hence a day of dancing and enjoying themselves being a devotee of the Lord of commoners!