This morning I visited the Mahalingapuram Ayyappan Temple with my mother – her birthday. She had wanted to pray and to feed the poor. A newly married couple and the marriage party were leaving as we entered. Inside, arrangements were being made for the child-naming ceremonies; one or two families were waiting with the bonny babies.
At the stroke of ten, the watchman called out to two or three poor, old people who were waiting outside. As they came towards the entrance, others like them followed. My mother then distributed the food packets, 50 of them, all in less then 15 minutes! One packet she took to an old and infirm person lying on the ground at a distance, and at the end of it all, she said she hadn’t felt better in a long time.
The Mahalingapuram Ayyappan Temple is one of the oldest and best maintained temples in the city. When Ayyappa devotees in Nungabakkam formed the Sree Ayyappa Bhakta Sabha in 1968, the objective was to conduct weekly bhajans and the yearly Ayyappan Vilakku celebrations during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku period. Gradually with the growth in membership and activities, the Sabha felt the need for independent premises to conduct religious discourses and cultural programmes.
The pratishtha and kumhabhishelam of the sanctum sanctorum was performed in 1974. Simultaneously, the smaller temples to Lord Vigneshwara and Lord Muruga were completed. The sthala pooja was performed in 1970 by the high priest of the Chottanikara Temple near Ernakulam. The poojas at the temple are performed by namboodiris strictly according to the Agama Sastra and the advice of the Sabararimala high priest.
The Sabha has a well-stocked library and it also runs a medical centre in Pushpa Nagar.