An ode to Kumbakonam

A Pilgrimage to Sabarimala (3)

Hello again! This is a post featuring my mother as she talks about the pilgrimage to Sabarimala. This is a continuation from my previous post, so if you haven’t had the opportunity to read it, I suggest you first read those two and come back here for more. After having described the events leading to the start of the pilgrimage, my mother now talks about the journey itself.

She says, “Devotees from all parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala travel to the base of Sabarimala either by bus or train or whatever other mode of transport they choose. They carry the two bags with offerings and other raw materials for food on their heads. From this point onwards, the journey uphill through the forests of Sabarimala is on foot. Devotees can either walk 7 or 48 miles uphill to get to the temple. The path is chosen depending on their health and what is allowed by their GuruSwamy. They walk as many days as required to cover the distance. Every evening, they rest, chant praises in the name of Lord Aiyyappan for having brought them this far and seek his blessings for the journey ahead. After their prayers, they cook a simple meal with the ingredients they have carried with them, eat and sleep through the night before continuing the journey again the next day.

When they eventually reach the top of the mountain, they pitch tents, one for each group of pilgrims under the GuruSwamy. They then bathe in river Pamba, to cleanse themselves and then proceed to go to the temple. At the temple they open the partition of the bag in which they have carried their offerings and hand it over to the priest who performs the elaborate pooja. After the pooja they return to the tent, rest and begin their journey downhill and then to their homes from the base of the mountain.

Once the group of pilgrims are back in their towns, they head straight to the temple from where they began their journey to Sabarimala earlier. When everyone in the group has assembled there, the GuruSwamy performs the ritual of removing the beaded necklace from each devotee’s neck as he bows down to him. This is symbolic of the entire pilgrimage having come to an end and the devotees are now permitted to return to the normal ways of life with their families.”


I love the amazing diversity in this country. There is so much to see and hear and know. I am not religious by any description but I do love knowing these things or what they are. I like hearing my mother talk about her experiences.

On a cold winter afternoon while I have a warm cup of coffee, snuggling up against my mother and listening to her stories is my most favourite activity. I hope you enjoyed listening to her as well over the past few days.


13 thoughts on “A Pilgrimage to Sabarimala (3)”

    1. I am glad you liked reading through these posts. My mum always has many stories to share out of her life and that of others around her. I wish I could write all of them! She is an interesting woman with a very interesting take on most things.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a great idea! I live continents away from my parents unfortunately, but I will keep this in mind for the future and for every opportunity I get to meet them 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I liked that the devotees could choose the 7 mile climb or one that was almost 7 times as long (and maybe that much harder). It takes honesty and humility to make such a choice– two very practical virtues that might well heighten the spiritual element in all of our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! Also I find it interesting that there is a whole hierarchy as well with a sort of leader that makes decisions, helps prepping and is in charge and that others follow in his footsteps until they get good enough to be leaders in future trips themselves.
      Thanks for visiting my blog and for reading these posts! I really appreciate your comments 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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