Hindu Ashrams and Hindu Organizations
Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa
Seva Sangham (ABASS)
Activies of ABASS -
Origin of ABASS
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
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
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
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.
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.
(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
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.
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
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
Community weddings for
couples belonging to different communities.
Flood and drought relief