The Ayyappa Shrine in Sabarimala is one of the most revered Hindu shrines in India. Devotees of Swami Ayyappan exemplify the concept of universal brotherhood; belonging to different regions, religions, economic and social statuses yet knit together closely into a community that is solely committed to the service of our beloved Swami Ayyappan. Many thousands of devotees of Swami Ayyappan (possibly millions) live in the United States. In the SF Bay area, there are many temples, but there “was” no permanent shrine for Swami Ayyappan. Local Ayyappa devotees yearned for an organization that could bring the scores of Ayyappa devotees together to assemble and participate in the service of Lord Ayyappa and build HIS permanent shrine. Thus was born Ayyappa Samaaj.
Ayyappa Samaaj was founded with the goal of creating a nimble, fast moving organization that serves the needs of Ayyappa devotees worldwide. When we look back at what Ayyappa Samaaj has been involved in over the years, the divine intervention of Swami Ayyappan is evident every step of the way. Whilst the focus of Ayyappa Samaaj continues to be on Lord Ayyappa’s service and devotion, the organization has consciously attempted to broaden its mission to encompass the larger spiritual and cultural needs of the community in the Bay area.
Today Ayyappa Samaaj is an IRS recognized 501 (c)3 non-profit organization which serves as a point of continuity and confluence for Ayyappa devotees. Our Mission is:
- To operate a Cultural and Spiritual Center to propagate and perpetuate the religious and cultural aspects of the worship of Lord Ayyappa,
- To promote the awareness of Lord Ayyappa and deities associated with Lord Ayyappa to the community,
- To publish electronic and print publications to promote the awareness of Lord Ayyappa and associated deities to the community,
- To organize spiritual events as well as religious events that are associated with the worship of Lord Ayyappa and associated deities,
- To promote the construction of a permanent shrine for Lord Ayyappa and deities associated with Lord Ayyappa in one of the temples in the San Francisco Bay Area or adjoining locations, and
- Provide assistance to other communities (local and worldwide) in the area of human, religious and community assistance services.
OUR TYPICAL CALENDAR YEAR
Ayyappa Samaaj conducts a range of events and activities for the community throughout the year. Take a look at some of our major events:
- South Indian New Year (Ugadi, Vishu) celebrations: Ayyappa Samaaj recognizes the unique New Year celebrations for south Indians around the month of April in the form of Ugadi/Vishu/ Varsha Pirappu celebrations. This grand event is marked by a grand feast, not only of food but also of cultural activities. Children and adults alike participate in music and dance programs. This year the event was held at the Jain Center in Milpitas on April 9. We had over 300 people participating in the feast and attending the cultural programs.
- Kids Ganesha Puja is usually conducted in September, coinciding with the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. This is a free event to engage and educate children about the feisty tales of Lord Vinayaka. This is just one of the many ways we want to encourage children to learn more about our spiritual heritage. Children participate in making a clay Ganesha model. We invite a local artist to help guide the children to make their own Ganesha which they get to take home for performing Puja on Ganesha Chaturthi day and subsequent immersion. In addition, kids perform Pooja on a colorful Idol with the help of temple priests by reciting Ashtothram. They also get to take home their very own special Ganesha. A very special kid friendly Prasadam/lunch is provided by the Madapalli team of Ayyappa Samaaj
- Ayyappa Laksharchana and Grand Feast is conducted around Mandalam season where more than hundred devotees perform Sahasra Nama Archana for Lord Ayyappa.
- The busiest time in the calendar for Ayyappa devotees is the Mandalam season, beginning in mid-November and lasting for six weeks. This period coincides with the season in Sabarimala where devotees wear Mala and observe Vratam (fast) for six weeks. Every week we assemble at the temple and homes of Ayyappa devotees for an evening of high octave bhajan and grand Maha-prasadam. For scores of Ayyappa devotees who are unable to make a personal journey to Sabarimala, we provide a sense of tradition and pilgrimage. Several hundred devotees find comfort and strength to undergo the rigor of the strict mandalam season in the company of their fellow travelers and devotees.
- Grand Irumudi Puja is conducted at the end of Mandalam Season to mark the end of the Vrath by filling a coconut with Ghee and carrying the Irumudi around the temple to mark the similar journey to Sabarimala, performing abhishekam to Lord Ayyappa afterwards
- Makara Jyothi Celebrations include a grand abhishekam and puja. This usually takes place in January coinciding with the date in Sabarimala
We look forward to your participation in all of these events. Besides these events, Ayyappa Samaaj also conducts other grand events for the community. Some of these include: “TATWAMASI – The Story of Swami Ayyappan” (2015), Crazy Mohan’s Chocolate Krishan (2010), Ajith Namboothiri Concert (2012), and evening of bhajans by T S Radhakrishnaji Bhajan (2016).