The temple is reached by climbing a flight of 18 steps covered
These 18 steps symbolize ,
Gnana, Intelligence and Jeevatma”. Those who cross all
these steps achieve “punyadarshan”.
One needs to have the sacred Irumudi on head
while going up or down the 18 steps.
One who crosses these
18 steps is said to have attained “Punyadarshanam”
– The first 5 steps represents the 5 senses.( “Bhoomi, Agni, Vayoo, Aakash, Karma )
– The next 8 steps represents the 8 Ashtaragas
(love, anger, avarice, lust, pride, unhealthy competition, jealousy and boast fulness).
– The next 3 steps represents the 3 Gunas
(nature-born qualities). They are Satv (perspicuity, discernment) ,
Rajas (activity, enjoyment) and Thamas (inactivity, stupor).
– The last two steps represents Vidya (knowledge) and Avidya (ignorance).
It is also widely assumed that the pathinettu padikal symbolize the 18 puranas; others believe that they connote the 18 weapons with which Lord Ayyappan obliterated evil
It is believed that, those who detach themselves from all these worldly pleasure,
can see the Lord Ayyappa in real sense. It is considered that after climbing up these eighteen steps
one symbolically detaches oneself from all the worldly ties that bind one physically and mentally to the world.
This is the main reason why one has to follow 18 observances for a period of 41 days before going to Sabrimala.
18 observances (vrutham)
The vrutham starts from the day of wearing of garland with the locket of Lord Ayyappa.
The mala is to be accepted from a temple Priest or Guruswami. The things to be followed for the vrutham are:
– wearing a mala of rudraksha or tulsi beads
– having only vegetarian diet
– no sexual relationship
– keeping away from women of child-bearing age
– no smoking or drinking
– cold water bath twice a day
– no shaving or haircuts
– sleeping on a mat without a pillow
– visiting a temple regularly to offer worship to God
– wearing a black veshti
– wearing sandalwood paste and kumkum daily
– eating one meal a day
– walking barefoot
– maintaining a temple composure
– addressing all other pilgrims as Ayyappa or swami
– no lying, stealing or cheating
– no entertainment
– think of the Lord and sing his praises