Berhampur, Jan 10 (LocalWire) Several barefoot and bearded people of different ages clad in black, with sandalwood paste and ash on their foreheads, are moving in Silk City these days. They greet themselves as “swamy” and “swamy saranam”.
These men have only vegetarian food and practice austerity for a period of at least 41 days, before reaching the common destination – the temple of Swamy Ayyappa at Sabarimala in Kerala on or before Makara Sankranti on January 14.
They are the devotees of Swamy Ayyappa and participated in deekshya to appease God Ayyappa to fulfill their manashika (vow).
Since the last few years, the number devotees of Ayyappa has increased in the town.
Even this year, despite the ongoing violence in Sabarimala over the entry of women following the direction of Supreme Court, number of devotees from Ganjam district, particularly in Berhampur, is on the rise.
Last Friday, a group of over 450 devotees, led by Srinibash Gurswamy, has
left for Sabarimla with Sankaranti round the corner.
Influence of South Indian states is one of the reasons for more and more devotees to take Ayyappa deekshya in south Odisha, particularly in Berhampur, said priest Sadasiva Panda.
Thousands of devotees are taking deekhya to appease the God in states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.
Some devotees, here, however attributed the reason for massive participation in Ayyappa deekshya to no social constraints or restraints.
“Any person, irrespective of age, sex and caste, can take deekshya to appease Swamy Ayyappa,” said Guruswamy Srinibash.
The deekshya only mandates strict physical abstinence. There are no religious restrictions.
Anybody, who takes up deekshya for 18 consecutive times and has a glimpse of Ayyappa, is referred to as Guruswamy and he initiates a Swamy into deekshya, said K. Someswar Rao.