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Story Of Ayyappa Riding Tiger

The image of Ayyappa riding a tiger is often associated with the Hindu deity Ayyappan, particularly in the context of the Sabarimala pilgrimage in Kerala, India. Ayyappan is a popular deity worshipped mainly in South India, and he is considered to be a synthesis of various deities, including Vishnu and Shiva.

According to legend, Mahishi, the sister of Mahishasura, sought revenge for her brother's death at the hands of Goddess Durga. Mahishi undertook intense penance, summoning Brahma to grant her a boon. She stipulated that only a son born to Shiva and Vishnu could end her life, and this son must live among humans for 12 years.

With her granted boon, Mahishi unleashed her wrath, spreading Adharma and threatening all living beings. Distressed, creatures sought the help of Shiva and Vishnu, who pledged to end Mahishi's reign.

Intrigued by tales of Vishnu's enchanting Mohini incarnation, Shiva expressed a desire to witness Mohini's beauty. Vishnu then appeared before Shiva as Mohini, and their union resulted in the birth of Ayyappa – the offspring of Hari (Vishnu) and Hara (Shiva) - Hariharasudhan.

The child, named Manikandan, was discovered by the King of Pandalam during a hunting expedition in a dense forest. Manikandan, with a bell around his neck, grew up in the palace. When the king sought to crown Ayyappa as the prince, the queen and minister opposed the move.

To cure the queen's feigned illness, the palace physician requested tigress milk. Ayyappa, granted permission by the king, ventured into the forest. There, he encountered Mahishi, and a fierce battle ensued, witnessed by gods and saints.

Ultimately, Ayyappa defeated Mahishi at Erumeli. Returning to the palace with the tigress and cubs, Ayyappa revealed his divine nature. Recognizing his true identity, the king, queen, and people honored Ayyappa's request, constructing a temple at Sabarimala where he chose to reside.

Ayyappan rides on a tiger, symbolizing his control over the forces of nature and his role as a protector.

The tiger is a symbol of power and aggression, and Ayyappan's ability to ride it signifies his mastery over these qualities.