Ayyappa Deeksha or Ayyappa Vratham is a religious observation done as an offering to Lord Ayyappa following the rules & regulations of utmost celibacy (as practiced by Brahmacharis in good olden days). It is usually observed for 41 days (or 21 or 11 days).
WHO can do it?
Males: Any one can do it.
Females: Who do not have monthly periods. So, it is essentially before puberty or eldlerly people.
It is usually observed during the Mandalam (which usually falls between Nov 2nd week and Sankranthi). Mandalam starts on first day of Kartika Masam (as per Kerala Calendar)
WHERE?Mala Dharana (Mala worn by devotees observing Deeksha) can be done in any temple. It is usually done by Guruswami (who had ben to Sabrimala 18 times) or the priest a the temple. Deeksha is ended by visiting Sabarimala Shrine in Kerala, India. In USA, there are some Ayyappa Sannidhanams which can be visited to end the Deeksha (for ex: Siva Vishnu Temple, Maryland).
WHAT to do?
Ayyappa Deeksha is about following Brahmacharyam strictly which includes Pooja twice a day, strict diet, no enertainment etc. Please read below.
Please try to follow these rules during the Deeksha. Except 2,3 things, most of these rules can be followed even in cold weather here in US.
Some of them may seem to be detailed. But it was done intentionally, to make devotees aware of the rules.
For any concerns or clarifications, contact
Bath & Pooja:
1. Do the bath in early morning with normal water. Yes. You can use Soap & Shampoo. If you can take bath with cold or luke warm water.
2. Do the pooja. Do your regular daily pooja followed by Ashotharam (108 namas) to Ganesh, Subramanyam, Durga & Ayyappan. (If time & health does not permit, do 108
names for Ayyappan and 16 names for others. All the 16 and 108 names are posted in this site.
3. Do the bath in evening with normal water and do the pooja as you did in the morning.
4. Chant Hairivarasanam only after evening Pooja.
5. No need for cooked Prasadam every day. Fruits as Naivedyam for Ayyappan are OK.
6. Do the pooja in the morning (before sun rise) and evening (after sunset).
7. Take bath as soon you come home in the evening from work.
1. Try wearing black or blue or orange dress.
2. Not supposed to shave your beard or comb your hair (reason being you are not supposed to think abt beauty of the body).
3. Yes. you can apply moisturizing lotion as not doing in winter may not be good for health.
4. To the extent possible, men should wear Dhothi at home. Again, it may not be possible during winter here for us in USA.
5. You should never take the mala out.
6. USe fresh clothes every day. So, have two pairs of black or blue dress and wash them every day.
Food & Diet:
1. No Breakfast.
2. Lunch: Take lunch before noon. Should be freshly cooked. No left overs from previous day.
3. Dinner: Palaharam like chapathi, upma etc. No rice. Rice items like Tamarind rice / coconut rice are OK.
4. No onion, egg or meat products.
5. Eating in restaurants is prohibited.
6. If any one calls you for Annadanam, they should have prepared the meal after taking bath etc.
7. Coffee and juices: you can take any # of times. As you know it is not healthy to take coffee many times a day.
8. When you or your spouse is preparing meal, make sure you clean the stove before cooking.
CELIBACY: Follow celibacy to the core. Idea is to be far from 'kama, krodha, moha, lobha...'
1. Sleep on ground without pillow and bed.
2. NO Entertainment. (means no partying, no watching TV, listening to film music etc, no playing games)
3. Control Anger.
4. Call all women (including wife) as 'Matha' and men as 'Swamy'
5. Brhamacharyam: Can not even touch your spouse.
6. During monthly cycle for women, husban taking Deeksha is not supposed to see the wife at all. (Some say, it is not needed, but lot of people try to follow this rule
too). If it is not possible in the house/apartment you are living, that is OK. But we might see women who are in their monthly cycles outside in shops or may shake
hands with them (at work or shop). That is the reason it is recommended to take bath immediately you reach home from outside)
7. Of course No Smoking, Drinking
8. No footwear. (this is not possible in cold weather in US). So, it is OK, if you do not follow this rule.
PLEASE REMEMBER THAT:
Idea is to follow these rules with utmost discipline and dedication, so we can control & overcome inherent human bad qualities one by one like anger, lust etc. By
doing it for 18 years, it is hoped we overcome all our bad qualities and become a SWAMY ourselves (or saints). Some people say that is one of the reason for 18 steps
at Sabarimala Ayyappa temple.
It is also believed by Hindus and many other people that, if we practice any thing for 40 days, we get used to it and continue it. That is the reason most of the
deekshas are for 40 days and so is Ayyappa Deeksha. So, if you can, take Deeksha for 40 days or at least 21 or 11 days. Try not to take for 1 or 2 days.
One thing any Sasthras say is: Follow rules to the best of abilties, considering the environment we are in. So if you can't wear black dress to work or if you can't
sleep without a pillow because of health reasons, that is acceptable. But not following Diet and Celibacy restrictions is NOT ACCEPTABLE.