Lord Ayyappa

Lord Ayyappa, also known as Lord Ayyappan or simply Ayyappa, is a Hindu deity worshiped predominantly in the South Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. He is considered the son of Lord Shiva and the feminine incarnation of Lord Vishnu, known as Mohini.

Ayyappa is particularly revered as the presiding deity of the famous Sabarimala Temple in Kerala. The temple attracts millions of devotees every year, especially during the annual pilgrimage season, which typically begins in November and concludes in January.

Legend has it that Lord Ayyappa was born from the union of Lord Shiva and Mohini. He was raised by King Rajasekhara of Pandalam, who found the child in a forest. Ayyappa grew up to be a great warrior and went on to defeat the demoness Mahishi, thereby restoring peace and order. Due to his divine origins and heroic deeds, Ayyappa is often referred to as “Hariharasuta” (son of Hari and Hara).

Lord Ayyappa is typically depicted as a young celibate deity, dressed in a black or blue robe. He is often portrayed holding a bow and arrow, symbolizing his skills as an archer. In some representations, he is shown with a bell around his neck and a garland of Tulsi (holy basil) leaves.

Devotees of Lord Ayyappa undertake rigorous vows and observe strict fasting as part of their pilgrimage to Sabarimala. They abstain from consuming meat, alcohol, and tobacco, and follow a simple and austere lifestyle during the pilgrimage period. The journey to Sabarimala involves trekking through dense forests and climbing a hill to reach the temple, making it a physically demanding and spiritually uplifting experience for the devotees.

It’s important to note that the worship and traditions associated with Lord Ayyappa may vary among different regions and communities. However, the core aspects of devotion and reverence for Ayyappa remain consistent across his followers.

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