Aazhi Pooja

Aazhi Pooja is a significant event connected with the pilgrimage. It is more or less a celebration symbolizing the attainment of ascetic frame of mind. It is performed on an auspicious day close before setting out on the holy trek. This ritual is also known as Vellamkud,. Daham Veppu or Padukka. Vellamkudi in vernacular means drinking of water and Daham Veppu, quenching of thirst. Men cherish in their minds various kinds of desires due to the identification of himself with the body. Such unquenched thirsts hinder the onward path to God-realization. Removing the thirsts paves the way to the supreme bliss. By virtue of leading spiritually oriented life for several days, the aspirant will have attained a considerable degree of purification of his mind and it culminates in Aazhi Pooja.

A special pandal is erected for this purpose. Fuels for Aazhi are heaped in front of the pandal. Camphor is made use of for setting fire to the Aazhi. When the Aazhi blazes and flames begin to rise up, the worshippers circumambulate the pyre and go on calling out 'Swamiye S'aranam Ayyappa '. Rice flakes, parched rice, coconut, pieces etc. are continuously thrown into the blazing fire The burning flame is supposed to be the Lord Ayyappa Himself. The articles that are being thrown to the fire stand for our desires, which are supposed to be annihilated by the burning fire symbolising true wisdom. In the devotional fervour and emotional excitement, some of the Ayyappas, forgetful of their bodily existence, enters into the Aazhi and spread the embers all around. Normally no one gets hurt in the process. Thereafter poojas are performed and camphor is burnt. Burning of camphor leaves no remains behind. So it signifies the thorough elimination of the desires of the aspirant. Thus the idealistic ceremony draws to an end.