The pilgrimage to Sabarimala has several distinct features as against any other pilgrimage. It is an experience indeed as unique as it is exciting. The pilgrim who goes up the hill is conscious of not only the presence of an effulgent spiritual power, but also the burden of his own past which he carries with him, perhaps pausing at every step to recall and atone for his sins and failings, purifying himself step by step. As referred to earlier, rigorous austerities are to be observed unfailingly without which it becomes a futile exercise with no spiritual gain. It is virtually a penance lasting at least forty-one days from the first day of the Malayalam month of Vrischikam, the mid-November. A pilgrim who takes his maiden trip to the hill is called a' Kanni Ayyappan '