The unkindest cut of all was when Ayyappan was cited as a symbol of discrimination.
Ayyappan is a symbol of secularism in its fullest spirit. The short article will give you 5 reasons why:
Reason I – The Shaivaite-Vaishnavite angle
Folklore states that the Asuras & Devas churned the ocean for amritha. The pot of amritha was snatched away by the Asuras. Not wanting them to attain immortality, Vishnu took the guise of an enchantress and took the pot away. Lord Shiva upon laying his eyes on this beauty madly fell in love and this union gave birth to Saastha.
As a matter of fact, in the twelfth century, there was bitterness between the Vaishnavites & Shaivaites. To remove the sting from the antagonism, Shaasta was created.
Saastha is a combined personification of Vishnu, the objective expression of reality & Shiva, the boundless reality.
Reason II – The Buddhist angle
After the decline of Buddhism, Buddha idols are supposed to have been worshipped as Dharma Saasta idols. Saasta means one who leads to righteousness which is synonymous to Buddha. Sharanam means to take refuge. We have similar chants, ‘Buddham Sharanam Gachami’ and ‘Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa’.
Sabarimala pilgrimage is similar to the Sangha. Sabarimala pilgrims are unshaven and wear black or blue clothes. Sangha followers are shaven and wear orange clothes.
Just like Buddha, Ayyappan is in a yogic posture. He sits in the Veerasanam and Buddha sits in Padmaasanam.
During the 41days Challenge, an Ayyappa devotee stands in a line at the temple, devoid of all egos, with a bowl waiting for prasad. This is similar to the Buddhist monks who ask for alms.
Reason III – The Muslim angle
Ayyappan was on a spiritual mission to kill the marauding brigand, Udayan. At the beginning of his odyssey, he defeated Vaavar, who was a pirate and a Muslim. Enraptured by Ayyappan, he became his ardent follower and chief lieutenant. It was Vaavar who killed Puthussery Mundan, the ferocious chieftain of Udayanan.
The Hindu-Muslim combined force made its final assault from Kochambalam. Ayyappan and Vaavar remained the best of friends.
Pilgrims go to Vaavar mosque, pay their homage and receive sacred ash from the Muslim priest.
During Chandanakkudam festival of the mosque, the Muslims go to the Dharma Saastha temple to make their offering.
Take a quiz – How many Hindu-Muslim riots have taken place in Kerala?
Answer – None
Why? Is Ayyappan instrumental? Then, who wants to bring in the discrimination angle?
Reason IV – The Christian angle
Every night, Ayyappan goes to sleep listening to Harivarasanam, a song sung by singer Jesudas, a Christian.
St.Andrew’s Church at Arthunkal is a stopover for Sabarimala devotees to remove their holy beads after completing the 41 days Challenge.
The church is supposedly built to commemorate the bond between Lord Ayyappa and the Church priest who was greatly loved by the locals.
Reason V – The Kerala – Tamil Nadu Connection
Ayyan is Tamil means father, and Appan in Malayalam means father again.
What better example could be there for Vasudhaiva Kudumbakam.
There rests my case.
Can you ask the religious fanatics to take up this 41 day challenge and understand the world of secularism?
(Please note that a person from any caste, creed or religion can take up this 41 days challenge)
Any comments please?
Shiv signing off from S & S Family First.