Sabarimala 18 steps
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Hinduism: Bhagavat Gita|
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Built on a plateau about 40 feet high, the
Ayyappan temple commands a lofty view of the mountains and valleys all
around. The ancient temple has been rebuilt after a fire in 1950, consisting
of a sanctum sanctorum with a copper-plated roof and four golden finials at
the top, two mandapams, the belikalpura which houses the altar, and the
flag-staff Replacing the earlier stone image of the deity is a beautiful
idol of Ayyappa in panchaloha, an alloy of five metals, about one and a half
There are several explanations regarding the significance of the
Patinettampadi, but in all of them, the emphasis is on the number 18. One
popular belief is that the first 5 steps signify the five indriyas or
senses, the next 8 the ragas, the next 3 the gunas, followed by vidya and
avidya. Crossing these would take the devotee closer to self-realisation.
Originally it was granite stone of 5 to 6 feet wide. Now it is covered by
panchloha in the year 1985. The steep steps are so important and holy, no
one can climb them without fasting for 41 days and carrying the holy
irrumudi on head.
are many mythology associated with the holy Patinettampadi. Some believe the
eighteen steps denotes the 18 puranas. Some say that 18 weapons with which
Lord Ayyappa destroyed the evil denotes the 18 steps. Others are of the
belief that the first five steps denotes the indriyas (eyes, ears, nose,
tongue and skin). The next eight steps signifies the ragas (tatwa, kama,
moha, lobha, madha, matsraya, and ahamkara. The next three steps signifies
the gunas (satwa, rajas and thamas). The seventeenth and the eighteenth
denotes vidhya and ignorance.
The Patinettampadi can be used only twice - once for ascending the temple
and once for descending below leaving the hill. Before ascending or
descending the steps, pilgrims break coconut as an offering to the steps.
One needs to have the sacre Irumudi on head while going up or down the 18
steps. While descending the steps the devotees climb down backwards facing
the sanctum sanctorum.
One who climbs the Patinettampadi for 18 times shall plant a sapling of
coconut in Sabarimala.