Mumbai: Lord Ayyappa or Manikandan is a deity mostly worshipped by people in south India. Men gear up for the annual pilgrimage to Sabarimala during the month of January after observing austerity for over a month and a half. You may have heard of this powerful temple in Kerala, but may not have known how Ayyappa came into being.
Here’s an interesting and inspiring legend associated with the birth of Ayyappa.
After Goddess Durga had eliminated Mahishasura, his sister Mahishi, observed strict penance to avenge her brother’s death. She worshipped to Lord Brahma for a boon that she would remain invincible and could only be killed by the child born out of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva’s union.
Since Mahishi was creating havoc, Lord Vishnu decided to transform into a beautiful woman named Mohini. Lord Shiva and Mohini’s union resulted in HariHara’s birth.
HariHara was found by King Raja Shekhara, a childless King near River Pampa. The king and his queen raised HariHara and named him Manikandan because the child had a golden chain with a gem around his neck.
The king’s subject rejoiced Manikandan’s presence in the kingdom but there was someone who hated him. The King’s Diwan wished to succeed him to the throne and hence couldn’t let Manikandan ruin his dream.
He made several attempts to kill Manikandan but failed miserably. A few years later, the King’s queen was blessed with a son. The Diwan convinced the Queen that her biological son had the right to succeed his father to the throne and not Manikandan. The Queen, bound by love for her biological son, agreed to be a part of Diwan’s conspiracy to eliminate Manikandan from their path by sending him to the forest.
The Queen pretended to suffer from an illness that could only be cured by a tigress’ milk. Manikandan volunteered to help his ailing mother and despite resistance from his father, headed to the forest.
There, he came across Mahishi, who was creating destruction. A cold battle ensued and in the end, Mahishi got killed. Thus the main purpose of Manikandan’s birth was served. The Gods appeared before him to remind him of his actual being and powers.
Nonetheless, Manikandan had an incomplete task in hand. He had to fetch a tigress’s milk for his mother. He rode a tiger accompanied by tigresses and moved towards the palace. On seeing him seated on a tiger, everyone present in the palace was shocked. Thus Manikandan or HariHara’s real identity was introduced to one and all in the palace.
He soon, left for his heavenly abode after hitting an arrow at the Sabarimala for the construction of a temple, as requested by his father Rajashekhara.