Sabarimala is a famous Hindu pilgrimage site located in the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Kerala, India. It is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, a Hindu deity who is believed to be the son of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu in his Mohini avatar.

The Sabarimala temple is unique in many aspects. It is open to devotees only during specific periods, primarily during the Malayalam months of Vrishchikam and Makaram (November to mid-January) and on special occasions like the first day of each Malayalam month. The pilgrimage season is known as “Mandalam” and “Makaravilakku” and attracts millions of devotees from all over India.

One of the notable features of Sabarimala is the strict vow of celibacy that devotees undertake before embarking on the pilgrimage. Men who wish to visit the temple must observe 41 days of austerity, abstain from worldly pleasures, and follow a vegetarian diet. They also wear a black dress known as “Irumudi,” which contains offerings for Lord Ayyappa.

Sabarimala temple gained significant attention and controversy regarding the entry of women of menstruating age. Traditionally, women between the ages of 10 and 50 were not allowed to enter the temple. This practice was based on the belief that Lord Ayyappa is a celibate deity and the presence of women of menstruating age would disrupt his asceticism. However, in 2018, the Supreme Court of India lifted the ban on the entry of women and declared it unconstitutional, allowing women of all ages to enter the temple. This decision sparked widespread protests and debates, and the issue remains a subject of contention.

Despite the controversies, Sabarimala continues to be one of the most revered pilgrimage destinations in India. The temple is situated amidst a dense forest, and devotees have to trek through challenging terrains to reach the shrine. The journey to Sabarimala is considered a test of devotion and endurance, and devotees often undertake it with great fervor and devotion.

The temple complex itself consists of several structures, including the main shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. The presiding deity is depicted as a yogi in a seated posture, known as the “Dhyanasree.” The temple also houses the shrine of Malikappurathamma, the divine consort of Lord Ayyappa.

Overall, Sabarimala holds immense spiritual significance for devotees and remains an iconic pilgrimage site in India.

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