Since the trip to Sabarimala and the trek to Sannidhanam was through dense forests, they had to survive without any assistance. So the Irumudikettu was readied with two compartments. They carried sustenance materials such as rice, 'Chammandi Podi', Pappad, Malar' 'Aval' etc. and sometimes cooking containers as well . Since they need to stay in te nights they had to take a bedding and a blanket and this proved a soft cushion for the irumudikettu so that they could carry it comfortably.
Just before Ayyappas prepare to leave home for Sabarimala, the irumudi is filled at the temple or in their own pooja room. The ceremony is conducted with the assistance of a guru/peria swamy amidst the chanting of 'Saranam Ayyappa'. Irumudi is carried on the head with due reverence.
About the Irumudikettu
Irumudikettu is nothing but the travelling kit of the pilgrims / Ayyappas, as they are called who have finished the stipulated vratham / fasting for 40 days. Without this Irumudi one cannot enter the Sabarimala sannidhanam and climb the 18 golden steps. The Irumudi has two compartments, one is Munmudi and the other Pinmudi with an opening at the center. The munmudi will have the Pooja articles offered to the deity and the pinmudi will have his personal belongings which the pilgrim needs during the trip.
Munmudi and the Pinmudi of the Irumudikettu
Munmudi or the front portion consists of 2-3 mudra bags one for the cleaned and ghee filled coconuts and the other mudra bags are for the Pooja items needed at the temple are kept in the munmudi. They are;
Ghee filled in coconuts for abhishekam of the Lord
Betel leaves and nuts with coins for offering
pieces of Jaggery, cashew, raisins, dry ginger / chukku,
Aval or the beaten flakes thin and thick variety, cardamoms, dates, honey and sugar
turmeric pieces, turmeric powder, blouse piece, kumkum, vibhoothi / basmam, sambrani, camphor, agarbathi, rosewater, rice, dal and lemon as offerings to God.
The 4 coconuts in the irumudi are kept there, to break one each at Erumeli, Sharamkuthi and the two for pathinettam padi one while going up the steps and one while coming down the steps.
In the Pinmudi items for the use of the pilgrim from the day he commences his journey after Kettu nira till his return home. There are some items like some snacks to eat as and when he feels hungry, pulses and rice needed for cooking etc.
As the pilgrim leaves home with the Irumudikettu he breaks a coconut near the house where a member of the family lights a lamp daily at least for a few hours daily till he returns. When he returns after the pilgrimage he breaks a coconut there again to signify the end of pilgrimage. Then he removes his irumudi and the mala which he had worn when he started fasting. That signals the end of austerities for the Sabarimala Pilgrimage.