Today – November 16, 2012 – Sabarimala Mandalakalam begins – Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple Opens for Mandala Puja
Mandala Masam or Mandala Kalam begins on November 16, 2012 - the 41 day Mandalam Season begins. The Shrine is open on all days.
The shrine then closes for a brief period and reopens for Makaravilakku festival.
Makaravilakku is on January 14, 2013. The famous Makarajyothi sighting also will take place on this day.
A pilgrim visiting the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple during the Mandalapooja period should observe certain austerities for 41 days. The pilgrim should abstain from non- vegetarian habits, should not indulge in sex and should wear the special Rudraksha mala. Some people don’t shave or cut their hair during the period. Some ardent devotees only wear black or saffron dress and avoid wearing foot wears.
Pilgrims set out in groups and each carry the Irumudikkettu, a cloth bundle containing traditional offerings to the temple which includes coconut, ghee, malar, rice etc.
People of all religions can visit the Sabarimala temple and there is no restriction of caste or creed. But there are certain restrictions on women. Only those women who have either passed their fertility age and those before reaching the stage of puberty are allowed in the shrine.