When I first heard that we were going to India I was excited. Then my dad told me we were going to Sabarimala with all of my cousins. I had never heard of that before and I was confused. I asked my dad what that was and he told me it was a big temple on top of a really high mountain that was devoted to God Ayappa. He told me that only my male cousins, uncles, and my grandma were coming with me because only old women and males can go to Sabarimala. My dad told me it was going to be a really long journey up and would take at least 1 and a half hour to walk up the mountain. I kind of didn't want to go because it required walking for a really long time and you can't eat meat for 41 days and personally. I told myself I had to because it was for god and I steeled my nerves and didn't eat meat actually for more than 41 days which surprised even me because I don't have much stamina when it comes to food.
When we reached India, after a shower we went to the temple and put on a mala. On the day we left for Sabarimala, it was really rainy and gloomy outside and the road was really slippery. I woke up early in the morning when it was still dark outside and took a bath because you have to be clean when you go to the temple because you are getting rid of all the dirt on your body which is seen as sins. First we went to the temple near my dad's house and did the erumudi kettu. We filled up coconuts with ghee and but some incense sticks and some other various items into a black cloth bag with two pockets called an erumudi. I wasn't allowed to let it touch the ground and I had to carry on my head most of the time. After doing the erumudi kettu, me, my dad, and my dad's older brother went to my mother's house by car where we met my cousins, uncles, and my grandma. From there, we went to the temple nearby and prayed to give us all strength to walk up the mountain and make it to the top. My cousins and I sat in the while all of the adults sat in the front and we all chanted Ayappa mantras. In between, we would encounter a temple and we would stop and pray and get prasadam. In total, we stopped at around 10 temples. By the time we got to the base of the mountain by the Pampa River, it was about 5:00. I was ready and energized and was determined to make it to the top. We stopped and prayed at the Ganapathi temple they have before you start your climb and threw coconuts at a wall. Then we were on our way.
From the beginning I was determined and was ready. I was going barefoot and was afraid of stones and thorns getting stuck in my foot but other than that I was ready. We began at a slow pace because my grandma said that we should all stay together. About midway up, we stopped because there was this tradition that kanni Ayappans had to put the sharam on sharamkutti which is a special tree where you place the sharam. We reached the top in about 50 minutes in total. I asked my dad why he said that it would take longer and he said that Ayappa gave us the strength to go faster. At the top, we all rejoiced because we had made it to the top.My feet didn't even hurt at all after walking barefoot by the grace of God Ayappa. We went to the temple and prayed vigorously for good things to happen and thanked Ayappa for giving us the strength to make it to the top. We went to sleep and in the morning, we all took a bath and went down to pray. We went down really early because we wanted to be in the front when they opened the doors so we could get a good view of Ayappa. We stood there for about 1 hour just praying and praying for all of the good things to happen. When the doors finally opened, I saw the glowing statue of Ayappa and I felt very blessed that I could behold this sight. Once we finally finished, we prayed one last time and started down for the return journey. I felt really happy with myself because I had done something that I had doubted I could do. This was my first trip to Sabarimala and I had a really good time.
I would request all the devotees in New York to support the initiative taken by Ayyappa Seva Sangham to build an Ayyappa Temple with 18 Steps for all of us in New York