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Erumeli is a pilgrim centre and is about 65 km from Kottayam. There are shrines for Lord Dharmasastha and Vavar Swamy (the Muslim lieutenant of Lord Ayyappa).The majority of pilgrims going to Sabarimalai touch Erumeli before proceeding to their destination; “Kottappadi” (Gateway) to the forest is there. At Kottappadi, there is a Mahaganapathy installation. On the western side of the stream coursing through Erumeli, Dharma Sastha is installed as a Kiratha (Hunter).
There is a school of thought that says that Petta Thullal was a sort of physical conditioning for Ayyappa's troops before they set course on their difficult journey through rough terrain to engage the brigand Udayanan who was a law unto himself.An overpowering atmosphere of religious ceremonies prevail at Erumeli during the pilgrimage season.
Dhanu 27th (around Jan 11th), certain time blocks are reserved for groups from `Ambalapuzha' and `Aalangat' to perform their `Petta Thullal'. It is said that these localities had sent large contingent of troops to augment Ayyappan's forces and accordingly this special `lien' accrue to them to honour their warriors. Other pilgrims are generally not permitted to join these groups as they would have rehearsed and co-ordinated their efforts for a better performance. This event will gets more and more colourful as the two groups compete with each other in a friendly spirit.
Most of the pilgrims going to Sabarimalai go to Erumeli where they obtain permission from Mahaganapathy at Kottappadi to trek their track, pay their respects to Vavar and make offerings at his Mosque, surrender themselves at the feet of Kiratha Sastha and join his battalion there.
While returning from Kottappadi, the pilgrims return in the guise of hunters, bringing home bagged game to be surrendered at the Lord’s feet-the game bagged, being the “Ashtaragas” in them. Pettatullal is painting the face with colours and dancing with wooden weapons to make one look odd. The essence of this practice is to give up ones ego and surrender to Lord Ayyappa. They go round the Ayyappan Temple and Varar Shrine and later bathe in the river. Then the temple is visited again to seek authorization from Lord Ayyappa to tread the sacred hill Sabari. Later the pilgrims leave Erumeli under the guidance of their Guru for Sannidhanam.
Between the sound of conch shells and Saranams emanating from the Kochambalam, Sastha Kshetram and surroundings at Erumeli, one can distinctly hear the the muezzin's call from the minaret of the mosque that is located between the two temples. This is ample proof of the brotherhood and religious harmony prevailing in the area.