Lord Ayyappa Folklore, Facts and History

Lord Ayyappa is a very popular Indian diet, worshipped mainly in southern India. The world-famous shrine of Sabarimala in Kerala is dedicated to his worship, also known as Manikandan / Manikanthan.

It is believed that Lord Ayyappa was born in the union between Lord Shiva and the mythical sorceress Mohini, who is regarded as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

He is also known as “Hariharan Puthiran” or “Hariharputhra”, which means the son of Vishnu and Shiva.

Legend says that since Lord Shiva and Vishnu abandoned Lord Ayyappa near the banks of Pampa River. The childless monarch and the ruler of the dynasty, King Rajashekhara, adopted him and accepted him as a sacred gift.

Birth Story of Lord Ayyappa

Once upon a time, the demon Mahishasura swept the earth, and all the gods united to create a powerful entity called Durga, killing Mahishasura and restoring peace between the three worlds.

Birth Story of Lord Ayyappa
Birth Story of Ayyappan

But it doesn’t stop there. Mahishasura has an older sister, Mahishi, who is not satisfied with her brother being bound by all gods and brutally killing him. Well, this is how siblings should feel.

Therefore, to recapture the land conquered by her brother and give justice to him, Mahishi, began doing a great penance to Brahma. He was very happy and ready to fulfill any wish of her.

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It is foreseeable that she did not ask for eternal life, but other things. Grace, she will only be killed by the children of two men.

Brahma agreed. Well, this is the gift of indirect immortality. How can two men have a baby?

Therefore, Mahishi knew that she was invincible and abused her blessings. But she hardly knew that the gods would be smarter than her. Vishnu transformed into his Mohini avatar and gave birth to a child with Shiva.

This child was later called HariHara Putra. Therefore, the main purpose of Lord Ayyappa’s birth was to eliminate Mahishi and help her obtain Moksha.


Another Legend states that Demon Basmasura had so pleased Lord Shiva with his austerities that Shiva gave him a boon of anything he wished.


Therefore, Basmasura asked for the ability to burn anything he places his hand over.

After receiving the gift of blessings, Basmasura wanted to test his gift and fled after Shiva threatened to turn him into ashes. Shiva asked Lord Vishnu for help. When Basmasura ran around to find him, he hid in a tree.

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Vishnu became aware of these events and decided to attract the demon in the woman form Mohini and tried to surpass the power of Asura. When Basmasura saw Vishnu appear in this form, he fell in love.

He seriously tried to propose to her. Therefore, Vishnu instructed Basmasura to hold his head and vowed fidelity. Through this action, Basmasura was reduced to ashes.

Vishnu found Shiva and explained the whole incident to him. Shiva asked him if he could also see this female form of Vishnu.

When Vishnu appeared, Shiva overcomes the dilemma with passion and united with “she”.

The two gods thus became “Harihara” which is a composite form of Shiva and Vishnu as one God. From this union, Lord Ayyappa was born.

He combines in himself the powers of Vishnu and Shiva & is a visible embodiment of their essential identity.


Ayya –> Shiva

Appa –> Vishnu

Why Lord Ayyappa is also called as Manikandan?

Ayyappa is also known as “Manikandan” because according to his birth legend, his holy parents tied a golden bell (mani) to his neck (kandan) shortly after he was born.

Legend has it that when Shiva and Mohini abandoned their babies on the banks of the Pampa River.

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King Rajashekhra, the childless monarch of Pandaram, discovered the newly born Ayyappa and accepted him as a gift from God and adopted him as his son.

What is the Legend of Lord Ayyappa’s Childhood?

King Pandaren Rajashekhara and his men hunted in the forest next to the banks of the River Pampa. He began to bravely hunt in the dense forest, which is a refuge for many wild animals.

What is the Legend of Lord Ayyappa’s Childhood
What is the Legend of Lord Ayyappa’s Childhood

After the hunt, Rajashekhara advised his soldiers to take a break, sit and entertain, and enjoy the natural green beauty and forest waterfalls.

At that time, he heard a child crying from somewhere in the forest.

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To his surprise, he turned and reached the bank of Pampa River. There, he saw a beautiful and sacred child Ayyappa kicking his legs and crying.

He was in a dilemma whether to take the child to the palace or to keep it there.

When the king was preoccupied with his thoughts, a saint appeared before him and told the king that he did not have to fear the child and took him to the palace.

The saint further stated that when the child is twelve years old, the king will know his sacred history. After saying these things, the saints disappeared.

Rajashekhara was very joyous and he took the child to his Palace and briefed the Queen about the incident. The King & the Queen, having prayed to Lord Shiva for a child, were very happy that they had been blessed with a child.

The people also felt happy that an heir to inherit the Kingdom after the King has been found. When the Ayyappa, named Manikandan, began to grow in the Palace, everything began to prosper in the kingdom.

He was taught all martial arts and Vedas and the Guru were surprised at his brilliance and agility and the extraordinary talents.

The Guru concluded that he was not an ordinary child, but a divine power. After completing his education under the Guru, Manikandan approached the Guru to offer his Guru Dakshina.

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When Manikandan went to his Guru for his blessings, the Guru told him that he already knew that he was a divine power and he was blessed for having been allowed to have Manikandan as a student.

The Guru further told Manikandan that he had one request to make that his only son who was dumb should be given speech.

Manikandan called the Guru’s son and put his hands on his head and immediately Guru’s son had his speech. Ayyappa requested the Guru not to reveal this to anyone and went to the Palace.

What was the conspiracy made against Ayyappa?

The queen gave birth to a boy, and the child was named RajaRajan. King Rajashekhara was so impressed with Ayyappa’s talent that he decided to crown him as his eldest son.

He ordered the minister to make arrangements for this. The minister thought he would become the next crown after Rajashekhara was worried and began to make plans to prevent Ayyappa from being crowned.

After all, attempts to kill Lord Ayyappa were unsuccessful, the priest approached the queen and told her that she had her son, and it was incorrect to crown the people from the forest.

He suggested that the Queen should pretend as if suffering from severe headache and he would make the physician tell that only a tigress’ milk should be brought to cure the Queen.

Since Ayyappa would only go to the forest to bring the milk, he would be in danger from the wild animals.

The queen agreed to follow his instructions so that her son could inherit the king’s throne.

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The Queen, as told by the minister, cried out loudly that she was suffering from severe headache and stomach pain, and the King, believing this, called the minister to bring in the best physicians to treat her.

The Physician, brought by the minister examined the Queen and told the King that it could be cured only by applying Tigress’ milk.

How was Mahishi Killed by Lord Ayyappa?

Panchabuthas sent by Lord Shiva accompanied Lord Ayyappa to the forest. Ayyappa entered the forest to perform his sacred duties and get rid of Mahishi’s world.

Ayyappa went to Mahishi to fight. During the conflict, Ayyappa threw Mahishi from devaloka to the ground, and she fell on the bank of the Azhutha River.

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Ayyappa clashed with her again on the Azhutha River. At the end of the battle, Ayyappa climbed to his chest and danced violently.

Mahishi knew that the magical power to dance on her was only the sons of Hari and Hara, who died before Ayyappa. Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu witnessed this dance at Kalakatti.

How did people realize Lord Ayyappa’s Divine powers?

After killing Mahishi, Lord Ayyappa went to the forest for the tigress milk.

How did people realize Lord Ayyappa’s Divine powers
How did people realize Lord Ayyappa’s Divine powers?

Shiva appeared in front of him at the time and told him that although he did well for Devas, there was still a major task, which was to comfort King Rajashekhara.

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Lord Shiva further told him that he could go to the Palace with Lord Indra in the form of a tiger. As Ayyappa landed on the tiger, all-female devas in the disguise of a tigress started their journey to the Palace.

After seeing this, the planner was scared to admit his conspiracy. They believed in his divine origin and prayed to him to be with them for their salvation and the safety of the kingdom.

How was Ayyappan Deified?

The king had learned the queen’s conspiracy against his son and begged the god for forgiveness. The king said that they would build a temple so that his memory could last forever on the ground.

How was Lord Ayyappa Deified
How was Ayyappan Deified?

 Lord Ayyappa chose the location by shooting off an arrow. Then he disappeared and left his paradise.

After construction was completed, Lord Parasuram carved the statue of Lord Ayyappa and installed it on the day of Makar Sankranti. Therefore, he was deified.

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How is Lord Ayyappa Worshiped by his Devotees?

It is believed that Lord Ayyappa laid down his strict religious beliefs to receive his blessings. First, devotees should observe 41 days of penance before visiting the temple.

They should maintain temperance, avoid enjoyment and family ties, and live life like a celibate. They should also continue to think about the beauty of life.

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Also, devotees must bathe in the sacred Pampa River, decorate themselves with three-eyed coconuts (representing Lord Shiva) and aantha garlands, and then bravely climb up 18 steps to the temple of Sabarimala.

What is the significance of the famous pilgrimage to Sabarimala?

Sabarimala in Kerala is the most famous shrine in Ayyappa, which is visited by 50 million devotees every year, making it one of the most popular pilgrimages in the world.

What is the significance of the famous pilgrimage to Sabarimala
What is the significance of the famous pilgrimage to Sabarimala?

On January 14th, pilgrims from all over the country bravely faced the dense forest, steep hills and bad weather, seeking the blessing of Ayyappa, people called it Makar Sankranti when the Lord himself is said to descend in the form of light.

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The devotee then accepts Prasada of the Lord’s food, and descend the 18 steps, walking backward with their faces turned toward the Lord.


Lord Ayyappa is the son of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, he lived a life of celibate and renounced all worldly possession. However, it is believed that he manifested for the sole purpose of killing Mahishi.

He is believed to be highly intelligent & having extreme valor, who wards off evil and prevail peace. He is mostly worshiped in the Southern parts of India and is a chief deity of Kerala’s Hindus.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Who is Lord Ayyappa?

Ayyappa was the son of Vishnu & Shiva. He is a very popular Hindu deity, which is mainly worshipped in South India. He is also spelled as Ayyappa. It is believed that he was born out of the union between Lord Shiva and the mythical Mohini, who is also regarded as an avatar of Lord Vishnu.

Is Lord Ayyappa and Kartikeya same?

Lord Kartikeya is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, born to kill the demons like Tarakasura, Surapadma, and Simhamukha. Ayyappa is also a son of Lord Shiva, but he was born after his father’s union with the Mohini avatar of Lord Vishnu.

How Ayyappa was born?

Ayyappa was born out of the union between God Shiva and Mohini, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. To save the world from annihilation, Lord Vishnu incarnated as Mohini and wed Shiva, and thus Lord Ayyappa was born. After the birth of Ayyappa, Shiva and Mohini left the child on the banks of the Pampa River.

Is Ayyappa real God?

Ayyappan (Ayyappa) is a Hindu God, particularly popular in the South Indian state of Kerala. Although devotion to Ayyappan has been prevalent in Kerala for hundreds of years, in the rest of South India, it has become popular only in recent times (in the late 20th century).

Which God is worshipped in Sabarimala temple?

The temple is dedicated to a Hindu celibate deity Ayyappa also known as Dharma Shasta, who according to belief is the son of Shiva and Mohini, the feminine incarnation of Vishnu. The traditions of Sabarimala are a confluence of Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and other Śramaṇa traditions.