Ayyappan, also known as Dharmasasta, Maṇikandan or Sasta, is a Hindu deity who is the son of Harihara, fused with both Shiva and Vishnu. Ayyaappa is believed to be born out of the union between Lord Shiva and the mythical enchantress Mohini, who is regarded as an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Therefore, Ayyappa is also known as 'Hariharan Puthiran' or 'Hariharputhra,' which literally means the son of both 'Hari' or Vishnu and 'Haran' or Shiva.
Ayyappa is also commonly known as 'Manikandan' because, according to the legend of his birth, his divine parents tied a golden bell (mani) around his neck (kandan) soon after his birth. As the legend goes, when Shiva and Mohini abandoned the baby on the banks of the Pamba river, King Rajashekhara, the childless monarch of Pandalam, found the newborn Ayyappa and accepted him as a divine gift and adopted him as his own son.