Sunday, November 22, 2009

The 18 Steps

The Holy eighteen steps that lead to the shrine have been figuratively called Ponnu Pathinettampadi. ''Ponnu'' as an epithet denotes the holy touch of the Lord's feet. But now the epithet ''Ponnu'' has become literally true because the steps have been covered with gold coloured Panchaloham. Only those who observe 41 days penance and carry ''Irumudi Kettu'' can climb these divine steps.Climbing the 18 steps from the foot of the temple to reach the sanctum sanctorum for holy darshan is considered an important privilege of every devotee. The Pathinettampadi (18 steps) represents the eighteen stages one has to pass through to attain ''Moksha'' (salvation).Among the 'Kshethrasankalpas' in the world, the most important is the concept of Ayyappa and the eighteen steps. It is believed to be the great gift of the Almighty. Sabarimala is surrounded by 18 mountains which are thickly forested.In the Hindu Dharma 18 has a great spiritual significance. Here 1 is 'Paramatma' and 8 is 'Jeevatma', thus 18 is the number for the realization of God. In the Mahabharatha and Bhagavad Geetha, there are 18 chapters. Likewise there are 18 Puranas also that reveal the 'Reality'. The 18 mountains around Sannidhanam, and the 18 steps to reach the abode of the Lord also reveal the 'Reality'.

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