While you are on your 41 day vratham for the Sabarimala pilgrimage you have to follow certain dos and don'ts. Most of these can be followed even on other days, these dos and don'ts are actually for the betterment of the living and the behavioural conditions of the people. If you cannot understand what I mean by this please do go through all the steps laid out here. Many of these steps can be followed even during our non vratham days for our self betterment.
The list of Dos and Don'ts for Sabarimala Vratham
Take bath daily at least twice a day, early in the morning and in the evening. In those days people used to take bath in the well water or in the flowing river water which was very healthy. They did not need hot water for their baths. Soaps were not there in those days and so bathing powders like Green gram dhal powder / Bengal Gram dal powder / Besan as it is called , or aother natural homemade bath powders can be used to scrub yourself out. You should be clean to start and to end the day.
Sleeping on the floor is a must while you are on the Vratham, you can use a bedsheet or a blanket to cover yourself. You can wear only dark coloured and that too particularly Dark blue, Black and saffron veshti / mundu with a shawl on top. Elderly ladies who are going to sabarimala can wear similar coloured sari and a blouse.
Follow brahmacharya life all through the 41 days. This has been brought in by the elders to keep the concentration in God.
You have practice Saranam Vili whenever you can. It will help you to concentrate and keep you away from mischief. Practising Saranam vili aloud will also help you keep animals away while trekking or climbing through the forests of sabarimala.
Eat only vegetarian food . The person who cooks the food for the ayyappa swamis should also follow the daily bath rules. They have to take bath and then start cooking. The food should be feshly made and eaten. One main meals a day, you can have fruits and snacks in the evening.
You are supposed to talk less and make others happy as well. Do annadhanam whenever you can, help out others when possible. Annadhanam is said to be Ayyappans favourite ritual. For helping others and making people happy we do not need a Deeksha from a Guruswamy. We can follow that all your life.
A mandalam means 41 days, don't accept half a mandalam deeksha or instant Deeksha. Mandalam means 41 days and so please do take full mandalam Deeksha to reap the good benefits. This is actually detoxifying of one self, like in ayurveda, when they give medicines for a mandalam. It is said that to cleanse one's mind and body, one has to complete one mandalam vratham or fasting. If he is following a good Guruswamy and goes through the correct way of vratham one can see the difference in them after the prescribed time.
Don't accept highend / luxury Deeksha. If you are the kanni swamy you have to follow certain rules while you go for the pilgrimage. Those steps have to be followed. It is said one should not use a stick to help one climb the hill if they are climbing the hills for the first time. You have to go to Erumely to pray before you embark on the trek. You have to get an arrow from Erumely to get the arrow stuck at the saramkuthi. So only the correct Guruswamis will be able to tell you what to do and what not to do while trekking over the hills.
Do not take part in any violence. Don't make others unhappy or hurt their feelings. Don't smoke or drink. Do not wear foot wear, go barefoot to all places. You have to get used to walking barefoot because at the hills of Sabarimala you will find the climbing slippery and difficult, if you wear slippers or shoes. Barefoot is the best.
Don't be proud and think that you are way above other mortals, that all of them all falling at your feet when you have that irumudikettu on you. They are not falling at your feet, they are falling at Lord Ayyappas feet. Think of that, be humble and reply 'let God Ayyappa look after you and bless you' to them.
Living happily is what is expected of us humans. For living happily and without problems we have to be clean, healthy and helpful to others, which will in turn make us happy. These dos and don't for the trip to sabarimala is actually for the benefit of the humans. If they follow all these in real life then one will have a healthy and wealthy life ahead in these days of pollution and crime. Follow these rules all of you to live a happy and problem free life.
You can follow the rules even after the trip to sabarimala, for the carefree, healthy, wealthy and problem free life. That is the way God wants you to live.
Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa.