SOME 300 devotees thronged the Sabarimala Sri Ayyappan Sevashram in Taman Inderawasih, Prai, near Butterworth, for the ashram’s consecration ceremony.
Called asthotra kalasabishegam sri balamanikandan, the ceremony saw devotees chanting ‘Om Saravana Ayyappa’ in unison to honour deity, Lord Ayyappan.
Besides locals, devotees from as far as Johor, Kuala Lumpur and Kelantan attended the event.
Swami Atmaswarupananda, who is the founder and chairman of the 12-year-old ashram, performed the ceremony.
“It is the second consecration ceremony since the ashram was set up. It is an auspicious event, and a big affair, when held once in every 12 years,” said Atmaswarupananda.
He said the highlight of the ceremony was the pouring of holy water stored in 108 kalasam (silver pots) upon the deity.
“The holy water is poured to consecrate the deity at an auspicious time obtained from the Hindu calendar called, panchangam.
“I am thankful to the devotees, who have come from near and far, to make this event a meaningful one,” he said.
Atmaswarupananda also said that the ashram is looking for a piece of land, as the present building could not accommodate large crowds, especially when major events are held.
“We need a proper ashram building, with a big hall and facilities for prayers and daily activities.
“I hope the Penang government and relevant authorities can help allocate a piece of land for our group to expand our work,” he said.
Atmaswarupananda lamented that many Indian youths were wasting their time getting involved in unhealthy social activities.
“The ashram will be an ideal place for them to attend the various spiritual classes, free tuition, classical music lessons and charity work.
“This would definitely help them to build their morale and character.”
T. Santheran, 54, from Kota Baru, Kelantan, said he was happy to be part of the ceremony.
“For Hindus, it is highly encouraged to attend such ceremonies to seek blessings from God.”
Malaysia Hindu Sangam Johor Baru women section head T. Manomany, 65, said she was excited to witness the ceremony.
“I have been an ardent devotee of Lord Ayyappan since my teenage years in Madurai, India, before I migrated to Malaysia,” she said.