Pathayathira in Tamil means- A Spiritual journey on Foot. This is a very powerful means of sacrifice done by the devotees to their Almighty. People of any religion indulge in spiritual journeys, for Muslim its Mecca, for Christians its Vatican city and for Hindus its Kasi and Rishikesh.
From the alpha of the universe, man’s life is been controlled by an external energy, some call it as Almighty and some call it as science. In order to please the external power that rules us, We humans are performing many sacrifices, offering and lots of things.
- forgets about his prestigious status
- Oneness with common mob
- Eat whatever is served
- No comfort
- No priorities
- No pride
The only thing which keeps the spirit of the devotees is the thought of the Lord, and His immense blessing.
Pathayathira in Tamilnadu:
Tamilnadu people are known for their pious devotion to their Gods. Pathayathirai is performed by the devotees to the temples of Lord Muruga, Goddess Mariamman, and Lord Ayyappan. People go in groups to the temples of these gods from the residential place only by walk.
During the walk they sing the songs of the Gods, chant hymns and entertain the devotees with jingles drum and music. More than a religious trip. It would be very entertaining and refreshing. Pathayathira is to prove that, path of enlightenment, can be rude and tiresome, but it will finally lead us to the Almighty himself. Palani Pathayathira is very famous, as lakhs of devotees go on Pathayathira to Palani every year.
Palani is one of the six abodes of Lord Muruga. In this hillock, he graces as a small child, without any ornaments or connections with the material things ( Aandi ). This temple has an interesting legend. People especially from the southern part of Tamilnadu, including Madurai, Theni, Erode, Karaikudi, Thevakottai, Soorakudi take part in this yathra at large numbers.
How long it would take:
The days of walk depends from the place where they start their walk. The longest walk to Palani is from Karaikudi, which will take about a week to reach Palani by walk. The devotees who are going on Yathra will walk only in evenings and night time devoid of any foot wear.
Because during the day time it would be very hot and walking under hot sun can lead to sore feet. So once the roads are cool enough to bear the heat they will start walking. They will be walking all night and resting all day. The amazing thing during this walk is that, not even a single devotee would be left shelterless or foodless during his journey.
Some or other way he would find a place to rest and food to eat. And even people with burns, cuts and wounds in their feet will somehow reach the destination. Pathayathira teaches patience in man, to have faith in God, to be confident in ourselves, to never give up and so many life values. During the Yathra nobody is given importance, all are treated the same way and all are called as Sami.
Rules and Regulations:
Pathayathira is not an easy task, it needs some practice and fasting. The devotees who are going to do Pathayathira will not consume any Non-Vegetarian foods for 48 days. He should not wear any foot wear for about a month (this is to practice the feet for a rough journey). He should wear a sacred Rudraksh chain and should not cut his hair during this period. Every day without fail he should pray to god, (if possible visit temple).
During the walk the devotees must be fully devoted towards Lord Muruga and sing songs in praise of him. They should not expect any comfort during their Yathra.
Palani Pathayathira starts after Pongal (January 14) and ends on Thaipoosam. In this span of time millions of devotees go on Yathra to Palani.
History and Origin:
Palani Pathayathira was founded by the Chettiar named Kumarappan before many centuries. In earlier days Natukottai Chettiayars are known for Salt business and Interest shops. They are all devotees of Lord Shiva and Lord Muruga. This Kumarappa Chettiyar belonging to Nerkuppai region, started a shop making Lord Muruga as his Partner. And surprisingly the shop went very well and he gained lots of profit. At the year end, he divide the share to himself and Lord Muruga.
He planned to give Lord Muruga’s share in the Hundi, when he was about to board a bullock cart to Palani, he was suddenly struck up with an idea. He wanted to show his gratitude to Lord Muruga for His immense blessing by going on foot to Palani and drop Lord’s share in the Hundi. Thus he started the Palani Pathayathira. The next year another friend of his joined him, and later many Chettiayars joined in Pathayathira.
To honor the peerless devotion of kumarappan Chettiyar, his effigy was carved in one of the pillars in Palani Temple. And along with his two other Chettiyars are also praised for their devotion.
To recognize the charitable works done by the Chettiars to Palani temple, after couple of days from Thai Poosam, Chettiyar devotees taking Kavadi to Palani are allowed inside the sanctum of Lord Muruga and can perform Pooja to him. Thus Pathayathira and Kavadiyathira became very popular among all. Nowadays people from all parts of Tamilnadu are going for Pathayathira and taking Kavadi to Lord Muruga.
Safety and services:
As Palani Pathayathira became very famous, people who can’t go on pathayathira, compensate it by offering food, drinks, fruits and other essential things to the devotees. Throughout the way of yathra, there are many volunteers providing food and snacks to the devotees. Every year the sponsors are increasing and Government of Tamilnadu are also very helpful to the Pathayathira devotees. At every two kms there is free clinic with enough nurses and good treatment. To provide an easy journey to the devotees, special pathways had been laid.
Lord Muruga is the favorite God of Tamilnadu people. He is considered to be the most handsome God and the Pioneer of Tamil Language. Though He is quite mischievous and gives many hardships to test the patience of his Devotees, He finally pours them with his immense blessings. People suffering from health ailments, couple wishing for child boon, and many such wishes goes on for Palani Pathayathira.
It is their belief that, within consecutive three years of Pathayathira their wish would come alive. And many devotees had experienced it. More of a religious thing, by going for pathayathira, we experience many things. Devoid of the busy materialistic life, we can enjoy the calm beauty of the nature, we get a fresh air and relaxation. During this Yathra, our soul and mind are connected at a single point and are very receptive. Whatever decision we take during this Yathra it would be turn to be very wise and successful, as we think it from our heart without any deviation.