Sabarimala pilgrims have to observe several austerities and regulations to undertake the pilgrimage. Ancient Hindu sages believed that periodic fasts or vrithams purify the human mind and body. By adhering to an austere way of life and observing tapas in body, mind and speech, man transcends his earthly limitations and changes for the better, so says the Bhagavad Gita.
The pilgrims undergo 41 days fast (vritham) to cleanse the mind, has to be undertaken after getting permission from parents. Then one has to get the permission of the the Guru. After this the date is fixed to commence the vritham. On the day prior to the commencement of the vritham, the devotee diligently shaves, clips his nails, trims his hari and cleanses himself and offer prayers to ones family deity and make a holy knot with yellow cloth with 1.25 currency units within and present it to the family deity, thereby taking Her/His permission to commence the vritham.
The devotee shall withdraw from all social activities and spend his time by taking part in praying, poojas, bajans, visiting temples, cleaning temples, feeding the poor, helping the poor/sick and attending religious discourses. Avoid meat, intoxicating drinks / drugs, chewing betel leaves and from smoking.
One should take an lrumudi(filling the holy coconut with ghee and packing the essentials for offering Lord Ayyappa in the Irumudi) , which is the only travelling kit for a pilgrim who carries on his head during the pilgrimage and Walking barefoot. Nobody will allow to step onto the holy 18 steps at the Sannidhanam without the Irumudi, the pilgrim buys a new pair of coloured (black, blue or saffron) dhoti, towel or shawl.
Don’ts of Sabarimala temple :
1. No entry without the Irumudi kettu
2. Women between age group 10 and 50 not admitted.(they are also denied to be present at the time of the ceremonial procession at Pampa.)
3. Use of plastic and polythene materials not allowed.
4. Smoking and chewing pan are prohibited.
5. Polluting the holy river Pampa strictly prohibited.
6. Any acts that would damage the forest cover prohibited.
7. Only bamboo arrows alone used in the “saramkuthiyal”
8. Do not break coconuts on the “Pathinettampadi”
9. Do not use oil or soap when taking bath at “Bhasmakulam”