This ritual of bathing the Ayyappa idol in ghee is considered an important
offering to the deity. It is symbolic of the pilgrim's self-realisation.
The pilgrimage itself is a symbolic journey of the individual soul merging with
the supreme reality.In fact, the filling up of an empty coconut with ghee is
the most important ritual before the beginning of the Sabarimala pilgrimage.
Even before filling one's irumudi kettu, the pilgrim fills up the neythenga
or a coconut filled with ghee, with sarana mantram on his lips.
Before filling ghee into the coconut, the devotee drains out water in the coconut symbolising
the draining out of his worldly aspirations. He then fills up empty coconut with ghee, the ghee
representing the soul and coconut the body.
This coconut is broken only at the hill shrine and the ghee
is taken for abhishekom. When the pilgrim stands before the
idol and Neyyabhishekom is performed, the merging of jivatma
with the paramatma takes place.The broken pieces of coconut
are thrown into the sacred fire kept alive throughtout the
season on the temple premises. The burning symbolises, devouring
of all impurities of one's heart in the fire of knowledge
developed through devotion to Ayyappa.