Irumudi Kettu is a vital aspect of the pilgrimage to the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. It refers to the traditional bundle or bag that devotees carry on their heads during the pilgrimage. The word “Irumudi” translates to “two compartments” or “two knots” and “Kettu” means “to tie.”
The Irumudi Kettu represents the offerings and essentials that a pilgrim carries to present to Lord Ayyappa. It typically consists of two cloth bundles, one placed on top of the other and tied together with a rope or cloth. The two compartments are known as the “Swami Bhagavati” and the “Pooja Bhagavati” sections.
The Swami Bhagavati section contains items like ghee (clarified butter), coconut filled with ghee, camphor, incense sticks, rice, jaggery, honey, betel leaves, nuts, and other sacred materials. These offerings are meant for the deity and are used during the rituals and worship at the Sabarimala Temple.
The Pooja Bhagavati section contains the personal belongings of the devotee, including clothes, toiletries, and other necessities required during the pilgrimage. It is customary for the pilgrims to pack minimalistic and simple items, reflecting their commitment to austerities and detachment during their journey.
The act of preparing and carrying the Irumudi Kettu is considered a sacred ritual in itself. Devotees usually perform prayers and rituals at their homes before commencing their pilgrimage. They seek the blessings of Lord Ayyappa and undertake a vow of fasting and abstinence during their journey.
Once the Irumudi Kettu is prepared, the devotees balance it on their heads and start the arduous trek to the Sabarimala Temple. The pilgrimage route involves traversing steep hills, dense forests, and challenging terrains. It is a physically demanding journey that tests the devotees’ determination and devotion.
Upon reaching the Sabarimala Temple, devotees offer their Irumudi Kettu at the shrine and seek the blessings of Lord Ayyappa. The offerings from the Swami Bhagavati section are presented to the deity, while the Pooja Bhagavati section remains with the devotee.
The Irumudi Kettu and the pilgrimage to Sabarimala hold immense significance for Lord Ayyappa’s devotees, symbolizing their dedication, surrender, and commitment to spiritual growth and self-discipline.