God Iyappan - the fasting begins
God Iyappan is worshipped during the Kaliyuga Era. He is widely believed to overcome troubles and sorrows
of all people. As Human beings we live in a fast moving modern society, while following, with much difficulties, the traditions and cultures inherited from our ancestors.
During the fasting period Hindus are bound to follow the defined norms of a fast. It is through this that they obtain the real outcome of a fast.
The purpose of fasting is that it is healthy for the body. The organs in the digesting process get an opportunity to relax and the system is refined and proper blood circulation is restored.
This provides one, a healthy, peaceful and long life. Those who fast are expected to lead a very humble life. They should refrain from killing animals for food to get God’s direct blessings.
Observing the fast for God Iyappan leads one in this correct path. Devotees ceremonially initiated the fasting period last Saturday, November 17, at Aluthmawatha Ananda Iyappan temple with a Ganapathi Homam, in view of Sabarimalai Iyappan Yathra.
Those who observe the Iyappan fast will have to take a normal bath (no hot water) in the mornings and evenings. They will have to apply Santhanam and Kunkumam to the Iyappan image hanging around their neck, light a lamp and incense stick to the Iyappan photo in the shrine room and worship and at the end of the prayer offer milk, plantain or sugar candy.
God Iyappan is said to have gone to the jungle without a second thought in search of tiger milk to cure his
mother. He loves his parents. Thus, he expects his devotees too to love their parents.
The devotees have to worship their parents and get their blessings and see that they treat them well specially during the fasting period.
On the first day of the Tamil month Karthika, the fasting begins. Devotees can start the fast with the help of a guru or their parents. Thereafter they will strictly have to be pure in their heart, speech and conduct.
The fasting period consists of 41 days. They can skip one meal a day and refrain from afternoon nap, strictly abstain from gambling, cinema, cigarettes and alcohol.
These restrictions would help one relieve of the bad habits and enlighten him of the good aspects the world offers.
Devotees have to refrain from white clothing and footwear during the fasting period. Refraining from footwear helps them prepare for the Padha Yathra they have to observe at the end of the fast, along the Sabarimalai mountain.
They must refrain from using perfumes, mattress and pillow. They must also abstain from thinking or talking evil. They should possess the thought that “I am prepared to sacrifice anything for you God, your grace is what is more important to me and my family”.
During the fasting period it is advisable to engage in worshipping Iyappan and singing his Banjan songs.
When the devotees meet they greet saying ‘Samy Saranam’. This implies that once they start observing the fast they are treated as Iyappan themselves. This makes one feel he is divine and is expected to behave accordingly.