Ayyappan is a famous South Indian Hindu deity. Lord Ayyappan is worshipped in a number of shrines across India at Kulathupuzha, in Kerala, he is worshipped as a child; at Achenkovil in conjunction with his consorts, Pushkala and Poorna; and at Sabarimala as an ascetic – a celibate meditating in solitude for the benefit of all mankind.
Different names of Loard Ayyappan Dharmasasta, Hariharasutan, Manikandan, Sathanar, Sastan, Cattan (from Sanskrit Sasta), Ayyanar, Natrayan, Nattarasan, and Bhutanathan.
Lord Ayyappan is a symbol of religious unity and communal harmony. Being born out of Mohini (the female incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and Lord Shiva, answered Rajasekara’s prayer and ordered Dharmasastha to take the avathar of Ayyappan.
Ayyappan took the form of a baby with a golden chain and bell around his neck and placed himself near the Pamba river. King Rajasekara who was returning after hunting in the forest adjoining the banks of River Pampa, along with his men, heard a child crying from somewhere in the forest. Surprised, he went round and reached the banks of River Pampa. There he saw a beautiful and divine child (i.e. Ayyappa) kicking its legs and crying out, and was in a dilemma whether to take the child to the Palace or leave it there itself.
As graced by the Bhagwan King Rajasekara completed building of the temple with 18 steps to reach there. When the King was thinking how to put Dharmasastha’s figure in the temple for darshan to devotees, he recalled the words of the Bhagwan, the River Pampa was a holy river like River Ganga, Sabarimala was a holy place like Kasi. Dharmasastha sent Parasuraman to Sabarimala who created the figure of Lord Ayyappa and installed it on the day of Makarasankranthi, the day on which the Makara Jothi appears.
Every year 4.5 to 5 crore peoples comming to Shabarimala irrespective of caste or creed and adorn themselves with garlands and irumudis, chants slogans on Lord Ayyappa, bathe in holy river Pampa, climb up the eighteen steps & get the grace of Ayyappa.