Legendary paalazhimathanam is the background story of Ayyappan Thiyyattu. Indra, accursed by Sage Durvasas, loses his youth and prosperity and becomes old untimely on account of a unique garland presented by heavenly nymphs. To get his lost wealth and health, devas jointly with asuras churn palazhi (Ocean of Milk), the abode of Lord Vishnu, making mandaraparvatha (mandara mountain) as churn drill and vasuki, the king of serpants as rope. Though they some-how manage to get the amrithu (ambrosia) with the help of Brahma-Vishnu-Maheswara, the asuras steal the same and take to asurapuri. Vishnu, in disguise of a beautiful damsel, cunningly brings back the amrithu by cheating asuras and feeds Indra putting an end to sage Durvasas' curse. Out of the divine union of this vishnumohini with Lord Shiva, Lord Ayyappa is born.

The story is divided into 12 parts and the last part viz. sankaramohanam – sastha-avatharam - is the most important and the more enacted one. The 12 parts of the story are as follows:

1. Offering of garland by nymphs to Sage Durvasas.

2. Sage Durvasas offers the garland to Indra..

3. Sage curses Indra subsequent to the destruction of garland by Indra’s elephant, Iravatha. Indra loses his heavenly prosperity and becomes old untimely..

4. Seeking help, Indra along with devas approaches Brahma at sathyalokam and Siva at kailasam.

5. Pallikkurup (divine sleep) of Vishnu at paalazhi; devas try to wake up Vishnu, Siva thandavam, Vishnu wakes up on hearing of prayers of gods.

6. Nandikeswara brings asuras to the scene, as directed by Lord Siva. Devaasurayuddham (war between devas and asuras), conciliation by Lord Vishnu.

7. As the joint team of devas and asuras failed, Anantha (king of serpents) brings mandaraparvatha.

8. As garuda (king of birds and divine vehicle of Lord Vishnu) fails to bring Vasuki, Siva by using his mental powers brings Vasuki.

9. Churning starts, vomiting of kalakoota poison by Vasuki, drinking of the same by Siva, churning of paalazhi by Bali, the king of vanaras (monkeys), mandaraparvatha sinks into paalazhi.

10. Vishnu raises mandaraparvatha at his back as a tortoise, churning of paalazhi, emerging of amrithu along with Dhanvanthari, Jyeshta Bhagavathi, Lakshmi Bhagavathi, Iravatha, Ucchaisravas, chandrakkala (crecent), Chandrahasa, and various other objects, stealing of amrithu by asuras.

11. Vishnu in disguise of a beautiful woman, steals back amrithu from asurapuri and feeds Indra. Vishnu sends his sudarsanachakram on asura Rahu while surreptitiously taking amrithu, sapamoksha to Rahu and Ketu (asuras), Indra regains his lost health and wealth.

12. Sankaramohanam – As desired by Siva, Vishnu again takes the mohini form and appears before Siva. Out of the divine union of Siva and Vishnumohini, birth of Sastha, Vishnumonini hands over infant Sastha to Lord Siva at kailasam.

[Like nirvahanam of koodiyattam (or story like raavanotbhavam in kathakali), the story of amrithamathanam does not start directly. It starts with flash back questions one by one and after a few such questions and answers only, the story links to the main story.]

Ayyappa is brought up at kailasam taking Siva-Parvathy as parents. He, the most brilliant, learned all vedas, vedangas and got training in the use of weapons from his father Dakshinamoorthy himself, the master of learning.

While staying at kailasam, young hariharaputhra takes Ganapathy as his vahana (vehicle), without knowing the relationship between them, which made Parvathidevi a little upset. As advised by Sage Narada, one day Parvathidevi cunningly asks Ayyappa what he calls his mother's wife (Vishnu being mother, mother's wife is Lakshmidevi!). Confused Sastha runs to his father Maheswara and asks his father the question in a childlike manner. It was the evening dancing (pradosha nritha) time for Siva and also being ashamed of directly telling the story to his son, he asks his minister Nandikeswara, who was performing mizhavu for siva thandava to tell the story. As no conversation is permitted at the time of siva thandava, Nandikeswara through hand gestures (mudras) communicates to Sastha the complete story of amrithamathanam and also the sankaramohanam ending with his (Sastha's) birth.

[Koothu vesham is thus considered to be of Nandikeswara, who is telling the story to Ayyappa as instructed by Lord Siva.]

Upon coming to know that Ganapathy is nobody else but his elder brother, Sastha takes aswam (horse) as his vahana, giving his well-deserved seat to Ganapathy at his right side.

On completion of his education, the 16-year old Ayyappa goes to swargam (heaven), the abode of Indra and occupies the sarvajnyapeetom of Indra, the seat of the one who has attained all knowledge. On seeing this, the devas questioned the authority of Sastha occupying the sarvajnyapeetom. A veda debate is fixed laying a wager. By hook or crook, Indra in collusion with Jyeshta Bhagavati, the goddess of devils, tries to win the bet but fails. When provoked by Indra about his ignorance of grihastashrama and kamasasthra (which is taboo to brahmacharis), Sastha, within a short spell of time disproves Indra by marrying Prabha and begetting a son Sathyaka. Sastha, enraged by the treacherous attempts by Indra to defeat him, sets fire to heaven. Finally, at a trial of strength between the both, Indra, the god of rain, tries to put off the fire by torrential rain. Surprisingly as wished by Ayyappa, the rainy water changed to ghee putting the fire more spectacular. As there is no other way, Indra seeks Siva's help. However, Indra admits to Siva the malfunction committed by him and subsequently in the presence of Siva, Sastha occupies the sarvajnyapeetom.

Sastha, as desired by Mahadeva, comes to malayalanadu (Kerala), armed with bow and arrows, kaduthila, churika, etc. as aswavahana, accompanied by his wife, son, Saniswara and 12000 bhootaganas (lieutenants) and sits first at Thrikkunnapuzha and then at 108 kavus like Thiruvullakkavu, Chammravattam, etc.

Sastha is the favourite god of Keralites. He is aswavahana. His wife is Prabha and son Sathyaka. He is specially worshipped to ward off sanippizha (calamities and misfortunes). Ganapathy is his right hand and Goddess Saraswathi stays at his tongue. He is equally worshipped by saivites, vaishanavites and saktheyas alike. Thiyyattu is an offering to Sastha while the smashing of 12000 coconuts is an offering to the 12000 bhootaganas (lieutenants) assigned to him by his father Siva.

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