Steadfast Ayyappa Devotees Get the Gratification of Annadanam at MTS

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Beautifully decorated Aiyyappa resplendent at the Puja with the eighteen steps at Sri Meenakshi Temple

By Chitoor  Ramachandran

PEARLAND: The month of karthigai (vrichikam) (Nov-Dec) makes the premises of Sri Meenakshi Temple vibrant with numerous festive events individually distinct in the importance, intent and tradition. The 41 days of austere Ayyappa vrutham (Mandalam) and the associated worship of Sri Ayyappa (Sri Dharma Shasta) conspicuously bring out several disciplines recommended to take up in the spiritual path of life.   The divine Sharana ghosham fill the air.

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Sri Guruswamy Venkatesan thanking the devotees that were enjoying the grand feast after the Aiyyappa Puja at MTS

Ancient Hindu literature mentions about Sri Dharma Shastha as the authority of righteousness. According to the legend, Sri Dharma Shasta took birth in this world as Sri Ayyappa as a protector of His devotees in the present Kali Yuga. Sri Ayyappa reinstates the moral values in the society that are degraded during Kali Yuga. When the purpose of his incarnation was over, Sri Ayyappa merged with Sri Dharma Shastha.  Sri Ayyappa symbolizes a combination of powers represented by Sriman Narayana , the power that protects the universe,  and Sri Mahadeva, the power that periodically re-absorbs the expressions in reality. Sri  Ayyappa combines both these aspects of Brahman.  Sri Ayyappa  reminds us of the fact that there is no difference between the Brahman within all of us, irrespective of our physical and manmade demarcations. Vedic scholars refer to the mahavakyam (Great Saying) ‘ Tat Twam Asi ‘ which frequently appears in Chandogya Upanishad  ‘Tat Twam Asi’ and its relevance to Sri Ayyappa has been explained in many Hindu texts.  The meaning of “Tat Twam Asi”  is ‘  That thou art ‘,  which refers to our experience of identity with Brahman.  Everyone who takes the vow to observe Ayyappa vrutham is addressed as ‘Ayyappa’-  a symbolic way to recognize that they share the same divinity of the Lord within them.

Strict adherence to the rules the Ayyappas follow is to help them purify themselves externally and internally (mind, action, body, diet etc.). The basic principle that is modeled in the vrutham is that such austerities will create a habit that eventually will transform the way they treat others with respect, since others share the same divinity (satvic).  According to the tradition, for those who intend to seek the darshan at Sabari malai (the abode of Sri Ayyappa),  vrutham is essential.   More information on Ayyappa vrutham is available in www.

Special worship is conducted daily in the shrine of Sri Ayyappa at Sri Meenakshi Temple throughout the season of Mandalam, led by Priest Sri  R. K. E Parameswaran. Among the charitable activities MTS and  Ayyappa devotees engage in, donating or sharing food  (annadanam) is considered the most virtuous. The annual tradition of Shastha Preethi (Pooja followed by a Grand feast) was held on November 29 at MTS with unprecedented attendance of several hundred devotees.  This tradition is highly revered by ardent Hindus.  It is believed that Sri Ayyappa Himself joins in  the feast sitting next to the devotee. Therefore, participating in Shashtha Preethi is considered a blessing.

Many volunteers under the leadership of Sri Guruswamy Venkatesan  and the RAC team of MTS deserve great appreciation. MTS extends helping hands to the hungry during the holiday season by collecting and donating food items to the needy.