Aazhi Pooja a fire worship, is a unique ritual performed in many temples of Central Travancore in association with annual pilgrimage to Sabarimala. In Hinduism puja is held on a variety of occasions. Pujas are performed in the form and that temples to mark some events of festivals such as Durga Puja and Lakshmi Puja. Fire may be lit and honour of deity Agni. Here Agni is worshiped without an idol on Sanskrit. This kind of worship known Nigama Ceremony. But in Agana ceremonies an idol or image of deity is worshiped. One of the Nigama Puja is Aazhi Puja or fire worship.
A huge blazing Aazhi is lit. The devotees, wearing Tulsi leaves and Rudraksha, circumambulate the Agni. In the meanwhile some move towards the holy fire and scoop cinders with their bare hands and sprinkle them all around their body. Some others walk were foot on the burning cinders chanting the hymn “Swamiye Saranamayyappa”. Those who swoon are taken away and laid down on the open ground, feed tender coconut water (ilaneer), and sandal paste and holy ash are smeared over their body. Practising rigorous penance and making annual pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple, a devotee can attain spiritual enlightenment. The fire worship help a devotee to attain mental and physical purity. It is believed that when and Ayyappa devotee worship Aazhi, all impurities on his heart are burned and he reaches mental tranquility.
In Hinduism worship involves themes beyond idols or images. Hinduism sees manifestations of God in objects like trees, rivers, stones etc., Puja is a form of Yoga and a path of transformation of consciousness. There are various processes for performing Puja ceremonies. First of all Asana, Mangalsutra, Pushpa, Dupa, Arathy, Naivedya, Pranama, Pradakshina, Dhyana Etc., A special pandal is made for this purpose. Fuels for aazhi (fireblaze) are stored in stacks in front of the pandal and camphor is used to begin the fire. Rice flakes, parched rice and coconut pieces are thrown in the raging fire. The flames are believed to be Lord Ayyappa and the things thrown in the fire represents worldly desires which are annihilated by Lord Ayyappan, who is the embodiment of true wisdom. Sometimes, the Ayyappas ecstatic and oblivious to their surroundings walk on the Aazhi, out of devotional fervour.
Then, Pujas are performed and camphor burned. Burning of camphor leaves no traces behind it; therefore, it denotes total destruction of the meaningless longings of the aspirants.