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Hindu Ashrams and Hindu Organizations

Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham (ABASS)

Activies of ABASS   -   Origin of ABASS 

Website :  http://www.saranamayyappa.org

Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham is a service organisation which founded by Dr. P.A. Velayudhan Pillai of Thiruvananthapuram during the year 1945 to propagate 'Ayyappa' dharma and render assistance to the p[ilgrims undertaking the arduous journey to Sabarimala.

At present the Sangham has 3474 Branches, 70 Unions, 3 State Councils and 7151 Life Members in the country and abroad.The propagation of `Ayyappa Dharma' and render service to Ayyappa devotees undertaking the arduous journey to Sabarimala.  It has been registered as social service organization under the charitable societies Act 12 of 1955. The Sangham is administered by its President Sri Thennala G. Balakrishna Pillai M.P. and General Secretary Sri N. Sreenivasan under the directions of a central working committee of 41 members, who are elected from a central general body of 501 members of the same.      

In course of time the activities of the Sangham had to be extended in scope and variety. It also strives at building up a well knit Society free of trivial discords based on caste, creed or colour.

The Sangham provides free yeoman service to Sabarimala pilgrims as indicated below:

  • Provision of medicated hot water for drinking, food and shelter for weary, medicines, medical treatment etc.

  • Conducts ‘annadanam’ in all the camps especially at Valiyanavattom and at Sannidhanam.

  • Operates a well equipped cardiology dispensary at Pampa in association with the Appollo Hospital Madurai.

  • Runs a well equipped permanent hospital, staffed highly qualified doctors, at Sannidhanam.

  • Helps re-group the lost devotees during Sabarimala pilgrimage.

  • Making use of Sangham ambulance, ferries dead bodies of the pilgrims to their homes.

  • Sangham volunteers carry the sick, disabled to hospitals or to their home.

  • During the Sabarimala festival season, conducts special free service camps in important centers where pilgrims congregate, for e.g, at Erumeli, Azhutha, Kallidamkunnu, Inchiparakottah, Puthuserry, Karimala, Valiyanavottom, Pampa, Sannithanam, Uppupara, Kottayam Medical College, Kottayam Railway Station, Chengnoor, Pathanamthitta, Pandalam, Ernakulam Ralway Station etc.

  • Thousands of devoted and well trained teams of volunteers carry on service duty in all the above camps during the Sabarimala Festival Season.

  • The Sangham has been also undertaking services at Palani Murugan temple, Thiruppathi Tirumala temple and in various other important temples in the country.

  • The Sangham also runs schools, libraries, old age homes, hospitals and medical camps in various places as required by the public.

  • Pays special attention to help poor people and poor students.

  • It has a large number of big and small temples under the control of its Branches and Unions etc.

  • The Sangham publishes a regular Malayalam Magazine entitled ‘Sri Ayyappan’ from Thiruvananthapuram and a Tamil Edition ‘Om Sri Ayyappan’ from Madurai to propagate Sanadhana Dharma among the public. Plans are also afoot to launch an English version and a Tamil version of the magazine. There are no plans at present to release a corresponding internet E-Zine edition. Devotees are earnestly requested to contribute appropriate articles for publication in these magazines.  

The above mentioned charitable and humanitarian services are being carried out by the Sangham within its limited financial resources. The huge expenditure incurred for this has to be met mainly from generous donations of the devotees.
 

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Origin of ABASS

In the earlier days, there was only one route to reach Sabarimala. The nearest road head terminated at Erumeli. From Erumeli one had to undertake a long difficult trek, along a narrow footpath, through thick tropical forests and steep rocky tracts, with no sign of habitation anywhere. The route went from Erumeli to Azutha to Karimala to Pampa. From Pampa the route ( as it continues today) is via Neelimala - Appachimedu -Sabaripeedom - Saramkuthi Aal - Sannidhanam. Distance from Erumeli to Pampa is 43 kms approximately and from Pampa to Sannidhanam is 7 kms.

Key:-

(1) Erumeli (2) Peroor Thodu (3) Irumboonni Kara (4) Arasumudi Kotta (5) Kalaketti (6) Azhutha (7) Azhutha River (8) Kallidum Kunnu (9) Inchipara (10) Mukkuzhi (11) Kariyilam Thodu (12) Karimala (13) Valiyana Thavalam (Valiyana Vattom) (14) Cheriyana Thavalam (Cheriyana Vattom) (15) Pampa

The route was infested with leeches and wild life. The area was home to a large variety of wild animals including elephants, leopards and wild boar. As there was no assistance of any form to be expected enroute, every pilgrim had to be self sufficient in terms of provisions, clothing, medicines and cooking utensils. To scare away wild animals, the pilgrims loudly chanted `Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa' and such other devotional phrases throughout the trek. The whole forest reverberated with this sound during the pilgrimage seasons. The pilgrims, starting from Erumeli, generally opted for a night halt at Karimala before setting course for Pampa on the following day.

54 years ago, in 1945 AD (Malayalam year 1920) Late Dr. PA Velayudhan Pillai, an Ophthalmologist , then working in the Government Eye Hospital at Thiruvananthapuram, was trekking up to the shrine along with a batch of pilgrims. He was an ardent Ayyappa devotee and a regular pilgrim to Sabarimala. Being a doctor he knew the medical risks involved and always carried a stock of first aid and emergency medicines for himself.

At Pampa, someone informed him that a small boy was violently ill with a high fever and was in immediate need of involved medical attention. The doctor rushed to the patient and understood the criticality of the situation. With no medical facilities available anywhere nearby, he decided to treat him with the limited range of medicines that he had carried along. With a prayer on his lips, and eternal trust in Lord Ayyappa, he administered the medicines to the boy. The boy slowly recuperated and went on to complete his pilgrimage. The doctor realised that such situations could arise in future too with probable loss of lives.

It was at this juncture that he thought to himself "Something needs to be done for the large number of pilgrims who are braving these hostile conditions to reach the temple at Sabarimala and have a darshan of Lord Ayyappa. It would no doubt be another form of Seva (or service) to the Lord himself. "

The following day (12th of January 1945, Dhanu 28 1120 at 5:30 PM) he broached the subject to his fellow pilgrims and associates Shri CV Raman Pillai, Shri R Krishna Pillai , Shri 'Maryland' P Subramaniam and V Achutan Nair. There was total convergence of opinion and the seeds of `Ayyappa Seva Sangham' were sown. This was in the month of `Dhanu' in the year 1120 (Kolla Varsham) as per the Malayalam Calendar.

At a function at Sri Chitra Theatre, Thiruvananthapuram in April 1945, under the chairmanship of Justice K S Govinda Pillai, Ayyappa Seva Sangham formally elected its first batch of office bearers. The composition of the first committee was as follows:-

President - Justice K S Govinda Pillai
Secretary - Dr PA Velayudhan Pillai
Treasurer - Shri P Subramaniam
Committee Members - Shri CV Raman Pillai, Shri K Chidambaram Thanu Pillai, Shri P K Vaidyan,
Shri G R Pillai, Shri Manikanta Iyer, Shri R Krishna Pillai,
Shri Kumarakom Vaidyan K Parameshwaran Pillai, Vidwan Varanad K P Shastrigal, Shri Achutan Thampi, Shri Keshavan Pillai and Shri R Subramaniam Nair

As a spontaneous gesture, the first monetary contribution, of Rs 600, was made towards Sangham activities by the noted film producer Shri P Subramaniam of Maryland Studio. This is effect made him the first `Life Member' of ABASS.

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Activities of ABASS

During festival seasons Sangham sets up special service camps at important centres, where pilgrims congregate, such as Erumeli, Azutha, Inchippara Kotta, Puthussery, Karimala, Valiyanavattom, Uppupara, Chengannur, Triveni, Pampa, Appachimedu, Sannidhanam and Medical College Kottayam.

Thousands of devoted and trained volunteers render service at these camps every season. Well organised medical units with ambulances are also set up at these camps to provide all kinds of treatment to the needy pilgrims. There is also a well equipped hospital of the Sangham at Sannidhanam. In case of emergencies like fire, flood, landslides or stampede, Sangham volunteers and medical service units do their best to give relief to pilgrims. The distribution of boiled and medicated drinking water at the camps and all resting places had been acclaimed as a very vital service to the pilgrims. Apart from the above, various other services rendered by the Sangham include providing facilities for broadcasting public announcements, telephone ISD/STD facilities to all parts of the Globe, financial aid to stranded and separated pilgrims, cremation of unclaimed dead bodies, transportation of dead pilgrims to their home towns, carrying sick and disabled pilgrims to hospitals, conducting Bhajans/devotional speeches at camps etc. Now Sangham is providing `Annadanam'( provision of free food) on a regular basis at important camps.


The Sangham constructed 40 toilets and a mortuary at Pampa. 100 toilets were constructed at Valiyanavattom and 50 at Azutha.

A hospital under `Sastha Medical Mission' is functioning near Madurai under the auspices of Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham State Council of Tamilnadu.

The construction of a large old age home near Madurai is in progress. It is proposed to further expand this hospital. The home is expected to be spread over an acre of land.

The above mentioned charitable and humanitarian activities are being carried on by the Sangham every year, in spite of its very limited financial resources. The huge expenditure incurred for this has to be met mainly from the generous donations of devotees. Sangham does not have any regular source for accrual of major assets or finances. The generosity and patronage of Ayyappa devotees have also enabled the Sangham to set up its own buildings at Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, Pampa, Erumeli and Sannidhanam.


As of now, besides extensive religious gatherings/meetings, the following charitable activities are being undertaken:-

  • Functional running of units engaged in active medical care / eye donation / blood donation.

  • Generating employment by distribution of sewing machines, iron boxes, bicycles and auto-rickshaws.

  • Assistance to students in the form of provision of books, bags, umbrellas and uniforms.

  • Construction of houses for the homeless.

  • Community weddings for couples belonging to different communities.

  • Flood and drought relief work.

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