Lord Ayyappan is a Hindu deity. The worship of this deity is largely confined to South India. Lord Ayyappan is worshipped in a number of shrines across India: as an ascetic - a celibate meditating in solitude for the benefit of all humankind. The name "Ayyappan" is used as a respectful form of address in Malayalam, and the famous mantra Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa can be directly translated as Give me shelter, Lord Ayyappa!
The most famous Ayyappa shrine in India is the one at Sabarimala with over 50 million devotees worshipping every year. He is worshipped with different names as Dharmasasta, Hariharasutan, Manikandan, Sathanar, Sastan, (from Sanskrit Sasta), Ayyanar and Bhutanathan.

The asura princess Mahishi was burning up with anger at the dirty trick the gods had pulled on her brother, the asura king Mahishasura. As Mahishasura was blessed with invulnerability to all men, the gods had sent goddess Durga, to fight and kill him. Thus, Mahishi began performing a fearsome set of austerities, and pleased the creator god Brahma. He granted her the boon of ruling the universe and being invulnerable except to a being that had the combined strength of both Shiva and Vishnu. Since such a person did not exist, she thought she was safe and began conquered and plundered the world.

The gods implored Shiva and Vishnu to save them from this catastrophe. Vishnu found a possible solution to the problem. When Vishnu had taken on the Kurma Avatar, he also had to manifest himself as Mohini, the enchantress, to save the nectar of immortality from the demons who were not willing to share it with the gods. If he became Mohini again, then the female Mohini and the male Shiva could have the divine child who would combine their powers and beat Mahishi. Lord Ayyappan had his human sojourn as the son of the Raja (King) of Pandalam. At that time, Raja Rajasekhara ruled the kingdom of Pandalam. During one of his hunting expeditions, the Raja was puzzled to hear the wails of a child on the banks of the River Pampa. He moved in the direction of the voice to find a resplendent infant there. The beautiful baby with radiant face wore a gemstone (precious stone) around his neck, hence the name Manikantan ("Mani", means gemstone and "kantan" means wearer around the neck). Manikantan was born of Hari (Lord Vishnu) and Hara (Lord Shiva), with Hari assuming the form of a female (Mohini). Hence, Ayyappan is also named as Hariharasutan (Sutan meaning Son).

The king, though pious, charitable, just, and God-fearing, had no children. The king was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and his queen was devotee of Lord Vishnu. They had prayed to their respective deities for blessings in the form of a child. He accepted the child as God's gracious response to his fervent prayer for an heir to his throne. Manikantan was given proper education and training and he grew into a boy well versed in academic lore and martial arts of the time like Kalaripayattu. The Cheerappanchira kalari at Muhamma, in Alappuzha District was responsible for his training in the martial arts. Meanwhile the Rani (Queen) gave birth to a son; however, the king regarded Manikantan as his elder son and decided to crown him as the Yuvaraja (heir). Since the minister of the Raja was always against Manikantan becoming the Yuvaraja, he along with his sycophants turned the queen against the king's decision. On the coronation day of Manikantan as Yuvaraja, the queen pretended to be suffering from unbearable stomachache, and said she was unable to get any relief from the treatment of any doctor (Vaidya).

Finally, a fake practitioner appeared at the instance of the minister, and prescribed "the milk of a tigress" as the cure of the queen's illness. The king appealed to everyone to get the tigress-milk, but no-one dared. At last, Manikantan volunteered and went to the forest in search of tigress Milk, despite the king's attempt to stop him. The king was deeply frightened that the deemed Yuvaraja may not come back alive. Manikantan entered the forest to fulfill his divine duty, to rid the world of devil Mahishi. Manikantan killed her and released a beautiful woman who had been cursed to become Mahishi. The young woman asked Ayyappan for his hand in marriage, but he declined, being a celibate. However, he promised that she would be visited by pilgrims and would be housed next to his temple, and if the number of new pilgrims, visiting him stopped, then he would marry her. Hence, she is now worshiped as Maalikapurathamma. On the death of Mahishi, Indra - the king of the gods, who was displaced and banished by Mahishi, led several tigers for the disposal of Ayyappan.

Days later Manikantan entered the palace precincts riding a fierce tigress and followed by a pack of her cubs. The schemers were frightened into confessing their plot. They were convinced of his divine origins, and prayed to him to be with them for their own salvation and for the safety of the kingdom. Immediately Manikantan disappeared. The king would not eat anything if Manikantan did not come back. Then Manikantan gave a vision (Darshan) to the king. Filled with emotions of happiness, grief, fear, wonder and 'Bhakti' (devotion to God) and self-surrender, the king stood praying for the mercy and blessings of Manikantan. He repented he could not fully visualize the truth of the divine powers of the Lord and repeatedly requested Him to forgive him for behaving as if He were his son only. The Lord lovingly embraced the King who prayed to bless him by freeing from ego and the worldly life of birth and rebirth and grant Moksha (salvation). He told the King that he was destined to return. The king implored Lord Manikantan to allow him to build a temple and dedicate it him and the Lord assented. Manikantan then enlightened the King on the path of attainment of Moksha. The Lord shot an arrow that fell at the top of Sabrimala and told the King that he could construct a temple at Sabarimala, north of the holy river Pampa and install His deity there. Ayyappan also explained how the Sabarimala pilgrimage shall be undertaken, emphasizing the importance of Penance vratham and what the devotees can attain by His 'darshan'. As it is very hard for all to go to Sabarimala at India, Lord Ayyappan’s beautiful image is installed in Hindu Temple of Georgia. All kinds of worships in the tradition of Sabarimala re followed. Come and get the blessings of Lord Ayyappan.