There are thirty six rituals to be observed and followed for the Sabaimala Pilgrimage, out of which eighteen(18) DOs and eighteen(18) DONOTs are there..
For SABARIMALA YATRA, the prime duty is the Maladharanam. As far as possible the Mala, should be worn through Guruswamy with whom the Bhaktha intend to perform the Yatra. If Guruswamy could not be contacted, the wearing of the Mala can be had through his mother or father or at any temple Sannidhanam. The Mala can be of either Rudraksham or Tulasi.
(2) As a main principle, Mala should be worn first and then the VRATHAM starts which should be observed for a minimum of 41 days and to be completed before the commencement of the Yatra.
(3) From the day of Mala Dharan and commencement of Vratham, the Bhaktas should take bath twice every day, i.e., early in the morning and after Sun set and to do small pooja at both the times. Also should chant SARANAMS before closing the Pooja.
(4) BRAMACHARIYAM:- Should be observed very strictly during the Vratham period till the reaching of their home after the Dharsanam and Abishekam at Sabarimala.
(5) During the Vratham period, Bakthas should take only limited food as required to subside the hunger.
(6) During this period always speak TRUTH and Talk LESS.
(7) What ever may be your daily work, you have to do for your livelihood, do it with full devotion on Lord Ayyappa and discharge it in the correct manner.
(8) Treat all living creatures, as they are also created by the GOD, like us.
(9) While talking with others (whether they are Ayyappa Swamis or not) the main Taraka Manthram, i.e. Swami Saranam should be uttered with every sentence you use.
(10) Try to be, as far as possible in the company of small Ayyappa group so that you can gain more experience about the Yatra and Vratham.
(11) During this period, as far possible, try to take part in the Poojas and Bhajans.
(12) Before the date of commencement of Yatra, within your capacity, if possible, do a small Pooja and do a small scale ANNADANAM to poor and needy people. The guidance in all the connected books clearly says that Ayyappas should do ANNADANAM to poor. Feeding Ayyappas Bhakthas with big feast, assuming that we are satisfying Lord Ayyappa, is a great Sin, as during this period the Ayyappa Bakthas should have restricted food.
(12) Try always to be calm and even when you are being provoked by others, control your temper and say the only word “ SARANAM AYYAPPA”
(14) Address all men as “Ayyappa or Swami” (Not only Vratham Ayyappas) and ladies and girls, including your wife as “MALIGAPURAM” and boys as “Manikanta”. Especially the Muslims should addressed as VAVAR SWAMY.
(15) The main principle of Ayyappa Deeksha is, that all religions and castes are to be treated as ONE. Any body (Whether they are Christians, Muslims or other religion) having faith in Ayyappa, can worship Him. Ladies can participate in Poojas and Bhajans, but only girls below 10 years who have not attained Maturity and Ladies who have reached menopause, after certain age, can very well perform the Yatra duly observing the Vratham.
(16) Manasa, Vaacha and Karmana (with mind, word and duty) have full devotion to Lord.
(17) Though there is no prescribed dress to wear during this Vratham and Yatra period, to distinguish you as Ayyappa on Deeksha either black, blue or saffron dresses can be worn.
(18) As your mind is always occupied with devotion, it is desired to have always atleast Viboothi or Kumkumam or Chandanam or Namam on the forehead.
(1) While speaking with others, do not address in singular forms. i.e., HE, SHE, IT etc.
(2) Atleast from the date of Maladharan and the commencement of Vratham, till reaching home after Darsanam and removing of Mala, do not consume any alcoholic, intoxicating substance and to avoid eating non-vegeterian food.
(2) Avoid oil bath, smoking and chewing of pan during this period.
(4) Never get angry under any circumstances.
(5) Do not tell lies.
(6) Do not hurt others feelings either by word or action
(7) Do not take part in death ceremony. After the Mala dharan during the Vratham period, if any close relatives passes away, adhere to your family traditions and as far as possible avoid performing the Yatra this time. As per the advise of Guruswamy, late poojya Shri. Kambamkudi Meenakshisundaram, if it is of distant relatives, you can remove the Mala, take bath observe the morning for that period without removing the deeksha and on the completion of the said period, take bath, ,keeping three times very little cow dung every time and then chant SARANAM 108 times or if you had GAYATRI MANTRAM upadesam already, chant 108 times and wear the Mala after purifying it with Panchagavyam, through Guruswamy or in the temple.
(8) Do not tease anybody or any living things
(9) Do not earn illegal money.
(10) Do not scold any Ayyappa even they are your disciple.
(11) Do not point out other’s mistakes
(12) Do not take part in Court Cases and stand surety for anybody during this period.
(12) Do not take part in Dramas or in Cinemas in which you have to act in undesirable scenes and avoid seeing such Cinemas.
(14) Either knowingly or unknowingly, do not commit sins.
(15) Do not go near or touch ladies who are in monthly period. If it happens it is advised to have bath immediately and to take “PANCHAGAVYAM” if available or chant SARANAM 108 times before attending other works.
(16) Do not have shaving and hair cuttings during this period.
(17) Avoid sleeping day time and to avoid sleeping long time in night.
(18) As far as possible avoid taking solid food outside and consume only fresh food. If you have to take food outside, due to unavoidable circumstances, have it after bath and avoid spending money lavishly.
After having Dharsanam and after reaching home only remove the Malas. On reaching home, breaking coconut at entrance, keep the Prasadam at your Pooja place at home, take bath, do Harathi for the Prasadam with Naivedyam, distribute the Prasadam for the entire family of yours and then remove the Mala yourself, duly chanting Saranam or chanting the Manthras for the removal of Mala, if you know it. Removing the Mala en-route is not advisable.
OTHER POINTS COMMONLY TO BE OBSERVED
(1) As you have to spend atleast two nights in the forest, during your Yatra and as you won’t get comfortable beds, it is advised to practice by sleeping on mats without pillows.
(2) To identify as Ayyappas, it has become a custom to wear either black, blue or saffron color dresses
(3) As the route through out the forest is slippery as well as with smooth rocks, it is advised to practice walking without foot wear during this period..
From the book published as SHRI MAHASASTRA POOJA KALPAM
(Written by Shri Bala Dandayudhapani Swamigal in the year 1942)