Sastha Preethi, as the name suggests, is the worship of Sree Dharma Sastha for the blessing of his divine grace. Lord Sasta, also popularly known as Lord Ayyappa is known to be the offspring of Shiva and Vishnu (as Mohini, in his female form). The most famous and well known shrine of Lord Sasta is the Sabarimala (mountain) situated at Kerala, India. Every year millions of people visit this shrine and seek the blessings of the Lord.
Sastha Preethi is celebrated in various names such as Ayyappan Villakku, ayyapan pattu, Sastha Pattu etc. Sastha having earned a name of Annadhana Prabhu, mass feasts are arranged for the function every year. It is believed that Nurani, the famous agraharam in Palakkad Town in Kerala is the origin of Sastha cult.
The people who originally inhabited this Agraharam migrated to this village from Thiruvannamali of Tamil Nadu. It is believed that when their ancestors decided to settle in that place and were clearing the bushes in the western side of the village, the labourers who were from the nearby Harijan colony heard a sound akin to the ringing of bells as well as very aromatic perfume like scent. The Brahmins of the village were informed about this. Further digging was done very carefully and three cylindrical stones as well as a flat stone were recovered from there. The astrologers who were summoned to find out what they are, told that the Three cylindrical shapes were the idols of Dharma Sastha and his two consorts, Poorna and Pushkala and the flat stone was that of Bhagawathy (Some say Malikapurathamma). The idols of Sastha and that of Poorna and Pushkala were installed in the Nurani agraharam and the idol of Bhagawathi was installed in the harijan colony of Kaikuthu Paramba.
Sastha Preethi is being celebrated in the agrahams of Kerala for the past 300 years. During this ceremonial pooja, Lord Sastha and his Parivara Devatas are invoked in Lamps. The sthanakaras of Lord Sastha, Chellapalai, Yakshi, Boothathan are inspired and gets the supreme power invoked within them. They as representatives of the Lord, are offered respect by the devotees. They bless the devotees with prasadam and convey the deity’s satisfaction. This pooja has been going on in and out of Kerala for a long time , and now in all parts of the country and abroad.
Ayyappa Seva Sangham, New York, is happy to announce that Ayyappa devotees in USA have an opportunity to witness and join Sastha Preethi for the first time. The religious pooja is given more importance followed by Annadanam. Generally the pooja on Sastha Preethi day comprises of Mahaganapathi Homam, Mahanyasa Japam, Rudrabhishekam, Rudra Kramaarchana, Sastha Avahanam, Ayyappa Sahasranamarchana, Deeparadhana, Chaturvedaparayanam and singing of traditional Ayyappa songs.
The Lord accepts any form of worship with devotion and dedication and to those who cast their ego and with absolute surrender and purity prayerfully call out to Him “Swamiyae Sharanam Ayyappa”, He is always there, ever ready to take us under His benign shelter and bestow upon us health, wealth , happiness and prosperity.
All devotees are earnestly requested to attend this auspicious pooja and get the blessings of Lord Sastha in this first and unique occasion organized by Ayyappa Seva Sangham. Abhishekam and Archana are the two important rituals performed during the puja. It creates an incredible environment and fills the air with holy blessings.
The Abhishekam is performed to the deity using all materials, plastered with sandal, jewels, flowers and fruits and rice is offered to him.
Laksharchana is the name and practice of repeating in a group, the name of the Lord in the form of a Mantra. By chanting the names of Lord Ayyappa in unison, all who participate will be concentrating on the same diety at the same time, thus creating a wonderful and powerful vibration. It will remind us of attending the aarti to Ayyappa Swami where thousands unite to chant the Sarana mantra.