Ayyappa Swamy Mala: Can We Consume Onion and Garlic? Exploring Dietary Restrictions for the Whole Family

The Ayyappa Swamy Mala is a sacred thread worn by devotees of Lord Ayyappa, a Hindu deity, during the period of Vratham (austerity). This period, which lasts for 41 days, is marked by strict observance of certain practices and dietary restrictions. One common question that arises during this period is whether the consumption of onion and garlic is allowed. This question is particularly relevant for families where one member is observing the Vratham, as it impacts the entire family’s diet. Let’s delve deeper into this topic.

Understanding the Ayyappa Swamy Vratham

The Ayyappa Swamy Vratham is a period of spiritual discipline and purification. Devotees are expected to live a life of simplicity and detachment, abstaining from physical pleasures and focusing on spiritual growth. This includes following a Satvik diet, which is a diet based on foods that lead to clarity, understanding, and spiritual growth.

The Satvik Diet and Onion and Garlic

In the Satvik diet, foods are categorized into three types – Satvik (pure), Rajasic (passionate), and Tamasic (ignorant). Onion and garlic are considered Rajasic and Tamasic, and are therefore typically avoided. They are believed to incite passion, cloud the mind, and hinder spiritual progress. Therefore, traditionally, devotees wearing the Ayyappa Swamy Mala abstain from consuming onion and garlic.

Impact on the Family’s Diet

When one member of the family is observing the Vratham, it can impact the entire family’s diet. It is not mandatory for the entire family to follow the same dietary restrictions. However, out of respect for the devotee, many families choose to follow the same diet. This can be a great opportunity for the entire family to experience the benefits of a Satvik diet.

Alternatives to Onion and Garlic

While onion and garlic are common ingredients in many dishes, there are several alternatives that can be used. Asafoetida (Hing) is a common substitute that can provide a similar flavor. Other spices like cumin, coriander, and ginger can also be used to enhance the taste of dishes.


While the consumption of onion and garlic is traditionally avoided during the Ayyappa Swamy Vratham, it is ultimately a personal choice. The key is to maintain a spirit of austerity, simplicity, and focus on spiritual growth. Whether or not the entire family follows the same dietary restrictions is also a personal decision. Regardless, this period can be a time of spiritual and physical purification for the devotee and, if chosen, for the entire family.