Staff Reporter

NAGERCOIL: Thousands of devotees from different parts of the State and from neighbouring Kerala visited Swamithoppu on Thursday to worship Ayya Vaikundar at Swamithoppu . According to sources, majority of Ayyavazhi followers were from poorer section of the society and most of them belonged to the Chanar caste. By the middle of nineteenth century, Ayyavazhi was recognised as an independent religion, flourished in the region of South Travancore.

There was an increase in the number of followers from 1840s. After the death of Vaikundar, the religion was propagated through his teachings and through the holy texts of Akilattirattu Amma and Arul Nool.

The five disciples of Ayya Vaikundar, and their descendants travelled to several parts of the country to spread the mission of Ayyavazhi. During that time the Payyan dynasty ruled Swamithoppu pathi, while other pathis came under the control of Ayyavazhi followers. Hundreds of ‘Nizhal Thangals' (places of worship) were built across the country. Currently, Bala Prajapathi Adikalar, one of descendant of Payyan dynasty is regarded as the leader of Ayyavazhi. He has laid foundations for a large number of ‘Nizhal Thangals' in South India.

Due to the notable growth of the sect, the day of birth of Vaikundar, was declared as local holiday by the district administration of Tirunelveli and Tuticorin from this year. The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation has operated special buses from various destinations to Swamithoppu, said the General Manager C. Ravivarmma.