At the beginning of 1928 while the Sree Narayana Guru was camping at Nagampadam temple at Kottayam, a couple of his ardent disciples - Vallabhasseri Govindan Vaidyan and Kittan writer - hesitantly mooted the idea of “ Pilgrimage to Sivagiri”. Swamiji enquired them about the object of the pilgrimage but they couldn’t reply. Hence the Guru himself explained that the aim of Theerthadana (pilgrimage) must be for the creation of a comprehensive knowledge among the people for their overall development and prosperity and suggested certain norms to be observed. The pilgrims should reach Sivagiri in yellow garb as the symbol of devotees, after following a brief ten day austerity based on Sree Budha’s five purities of Body, Word, Mind, Food and Deed. Guru underlined the need for education, cultural and moral purity for the yearly meet. January 1, the new year day was suggested for the Pilgrimage and it should be so planned to focus attention on eight subjects - Education, Cleanliness, Piety, Organised Endeavour, Agriculture, Trade , Handicrafts and Technical Training. Experts on these subjects should be invited to lecture on them and the pilgrims should listen attentively. What they have heard should be practised in the day to day life which will lead them to prosperity. The Guru concluded that this should be the main goal of the pilgrimage to Sivagiri.
Though the Guru had permitted the idea of starting the pilgrimage and prescribed the modalities to be observed early in 1928, it could not be fulfilled till 1933 on account of Swamiji’s Maha Samadhi on
September 20, 1928, and also due to unfortunate rift between the two organisations - S.N.D.P Yogam and the Dharma Sanghom, both founded by the Gurudev. The S.N.D.P Yogam was registered as a joint Stock Company in 1903 with Sree Narayana Guru as life time President, Dr. Palpu as Vice President and Kumaran Asan as General Secretary for the implementation of Sree Narayana Dharmam and the Sree Narayana Dharma Sanghom, a spiritual order of Sanyasins founded on January 11, 1928 for propagation and dissemination of the teachings and messages of the Guru.
The first Sivagiri Theerthadanam was held on
January 1, 1933. The following five devotees from Elavumthitta in Pathanamthitta District, in yellow garb after following ten days austerity as prescribed by the Guru, started from there on foot on 25-12-1933 and reached Sivagiri on 28-12-1933.,1. Sri. Mooloor P.K. Divakara Panicker ( Leader of the team), 2. Sri. K.S. Sankunny, 3. Sri. M.K. Raghavan, 4. Sri. P.K. Kesavan, 5. Sri. P.V. Raghavan. They used to take part in the pilgrimage every year till their death and they are called as “five yellow birds”.
Sivagiri pilgrimage is entirely different from that of other pilgrimages. The pilgrimage is for three days on December 30,31 and January 1, every year. The procession of pilgrims in yellow garb chanting mantras with one heart and mind carrying the Gurudev Riksha, starts from Maha Samadhi on the early morning of December 31 and returns after passing around the town when the “Theerthadana Sammelanam” commences in the specially decorated large Pandal. Eminent personalities from different parts of the country are invited to address the gatherings on the aforesaid eight subjects. Several cultural programmes and variety entertainments are also arranged on these days. Several dignitaries such as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. Zakir Hussain, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Shri. Rajeev Gandhi , Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Shri. P. Chidambaram, Shri. Lalu Prasad Yadav, Kumari Mayavathi had participated in the various functions held here. The number of participants has been increasing rapidly year after year. This is the 78th Pilgrimage celebrations and it is expected that more than 20 lakhs people from different walks of life all over the world irrespective of Caste, Creed, Religion or Language would participate in the festival. The increasing number of pilgrims year after year is a clear indication that Sivagiri has become the Supreme Centre of worship for the followers of the Guru, the personification of the synthesis af all religions. The messages of Jagath Guru Sree Narayana Gurudev have great significance and relevance in the present day life more than ever before. Let us always remember Gurudev’s messages —
“ One Caste, One Religion, One God for Man”
“ Of one womb, Of one Form, Difference therin None”
“ Whatever be the Religion, The Man must be good”.
“ Freedom through Education''
"Strength through Organisation”.
Austerity: The Pilgrims should follow strictly the directions of Guru that they should reach Sivagiri in yellow robes after following 10 days austerity based on five purities (Purities of body , word, mind, food and deed). All of them should also follow the five ethics [Non- violence (Ahimsa), Truth, Astheyam(Non-stealing), Celibacy , Abstinence of liquor)] propounded by the Guru.
Worship - Convenience for offering to diety: The devotees can have darshan at the Maha Samadhi and Sree Sarada Mutt from to 12 in the night. There will be Deeparadhana (waving of lamps before the diety) and group prayer at the Mahasamadhi and Sree Sarada Mutt on all days from to Separate counters are arranged for offerings such as Gurupooja, Gurupushpanjali, Sarada pushpanjali etc. A food
coupon will get along with each Gurupooja receipt for Rs. 25/- . The devotees who perform Gurupooja will get food according to this coupon from the Gurupooja Hall. Coupons are not transferable. In order to get remains of offering - food to all those who perform the Guru Pooja, Buffet system is also arranged.
Arrangements are also made to get the specially prepared Aravana Payasam to the devotees at the rate of Rs. 40/- per tin.
Receipts for all kinds of offerings can be had conveniently from the special counters of the Federal Bank, Varkala Branch at the Mutt.
Norms to be followed by the Pilgrims at Sivagiri: The premises of temple and asramom at Sivagiri not to be polluted. In order to keep them neat and tidy the commands of Gurudev that “ nobody should spit, chew or smoke in the eastern side of the bridge (entrance to Sivagiri)” to be strictly followed.
The space in front of the stage is provided only for the pilgrims in yellow robes. Silence to be kept during the period of programmes and be fully co-operated with the volunteers. No loud speakers should be used in such a way disturbing the programmes in the auditorium.
All pilgrims must be attentive to take part in the pilgrimage procession to be held on the morning of December 31 as usual, as per directions of the Committee. The Theerthadana procession will end at the Mahasamadhi and in the meeting to be held thereafter, Brahmasree Prakasananda Swamikal, President of the Dharma Sanghom Trust will give the Message.
Special convenience arranged for the pilgrims: The Emergency wing of the
, Dr. M.P Velu Memorial Homoeo Clinic, Anjengo, Dispensary of Govt. Ayurvedic Department etc., will work throughout the days of pilgrimage. Sivagiri Sree Narayana Medical Mission Hospital
Mutt Publications: The publications of Sivagiri Mutt such as Literary works of Gurudev, Interpretations, Biographies, Pictures of Gurudev, and works of other publishers relating to the Gurudev, hymns of Gurudev, C.Ds, Paper weights, stickers, key chains etc., which contain the pictures and messages of Gurudev, can be had from the Book Stall of Sivagiri Mutt.
Sivagiri Magazine: Provision is made in the Magazine stall to enrol subscribers to the Sivagiri Magazine, the voice of sivagiri Mutt and thereby becoming as participants in the propagation of Sree Narayana Dharmam. The annual subscription of magazine is Rs.125/- and life-long subscription Rs. 1500/- Sivagiri (English) Quarterly: Enrol as subscribers to Sivagiri (English) Quarterly, voice of Sivagiri Mutt. Annual subscription Rs. 100/- and life-long Rs. 1250/-
Sivagiri Brahmavidyalaya :Please donate liberally to the working Fund of Sivagiri Brahmavidyalaya which has been functioning well in the lines propounded by the Gurudev.