Ayyappa Deeksha or Ayyappa Mala dharana is the most auspicious spiritual practice observed in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala during the winter season.
Ayyappa Deeksha 2017 dates – Ayyappa Deeksha begins on Mandala Puja day (15 November 2017) and ends on Makaravilakku day (14 January 2018).
From November 15, 2017: Mandala Kalam begins (Sabarimala Ayyappa 41-days Deeksha). Sannidhanam remains open from November 16.
December 2017 Puja at Sabarimala Temple
Temple remains open on all days till the night on December 26, 2017.
December 26, 2017 – Mandala Puja
December 26, 2017 night – Temple closes
December 30, 2017 – Temple opens for Makaravilakku Puja.
Sabarimala in January 2018
January 14, 2018 – Makaravilakku Puja
Temple remains open on all days till January 20, 2018.
Ayyappa Deeksha is widely observed in Kartika masam (October – November) as per Telugu and Kannada calendars. Kartik Shuukla Padyami, the first day of Kartika masam, is the best and auspicious day to take Ayyappa Deeksha. It falls on October 20, 2017.
Generally, Ayyappa Deeksha duration is 41 days. It is referred as Mandala Deeksha. The Diksha begins at least 41 days before Makar Sankranthi when Makara Jyothi is appeared in Sabarimala. Makara Sankranthi 2018 date is January 14th.
Some devotees also observe 81 days of Deeksha and more devotees take 116 days of Ayyappa diksha starting from Dasara day. Nowadays, some devotees also observe 21 days of Deeksha and culminate Ayyappa mala before Sankranthi. They break their Deeksha in local temples. It is suggested to confirm the dates to start Deeksha from local Brahmins or priests or Guruswami.