The annual Niraputhari festival was celebrated with religious fervour at the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala on Friday.

The Sabarimala Sannidhanam witnessed heavy rush in the early morning hours as hundreds of devotees from different parts of south India thronged the holy hillock to witness the ceremony. Devotees believe that attending the annual fertility ritual will bring good luck and prosperity to them in the year ahead.

The ritualistic ceremony began at 5.30 in the morning. Devotees offered paddy spikes to the presiding deity before the holy eighteen steps (Pathinettampadi). The Melsanthi (head priest), Ezhikode Sasi Namboodiri, and other priests took the paddy spikes offered to the deity to the Namaskara Mandapam.

The temple Tantri (chief priest), Kandararu Rajeevaru, assisted by Melsanthi, performed the Niraputhari rituals. The ‘Putharipuja’ was performed, later, by 6 am.

The paddy spikes were taken out in a ceremonial procession to the sanctum sanctorum, with the accompaniments of the sacred Marappani and other temple orchestra. The Tantri performed deeparadhana, after offering rice flakes made of the fresh paddy offered by devotees as Nivedyaom to the deity, later.

The paddy spikes were distributed among the devotees as prasadom, later.

S.H.Panchapakesan, Special Commissioner appointed by Kerala High Court, M.Rajagopalan Nair, Travancore Devaswom Board president, K.Cicily, board member and N.Vasu, devaswom commissioner, were among those who have attended the ceremony.

Sahasrakalasabhishekom, Laksharchana

An auspicious Sahasrakalasabhishekom, Kalabhabhishekom and Laksharchana were performed at the Ayyappa shrine on Friday.

The Brahmakalasom (holy water) in golden urns were taken out in a customary procession to the sanctum sanctorum for pouring it over the Ayyappa idol (abhishekom) prior to the Utchapuja.

Ashtabhishekom, Udayasthamanapuja, Padipuja and Pushpabhihekom were the other important rituals performed as part of the Niraputhari celebrations at Sabarimala Sannidhanam on Friday.

Senior Tantri to assume charge

Kandararu Rajeevaru’s one year rotational term ends on August 16 and the senior Tantri, Kandararu Maheswararu, will assume charge as the chief priest at Sabarimala for the next one year period on the Malayalam new year day on August 17 as part of an internal arrangement within the Thazhamon Tantri family.

The Ayyappa Temple will reopen on August 16 afternoon for the monthly ritual in the Malayalam month of Chingom that begins the next day.

The rituals will begin with the Tantri performing Ashtadravya Maha Ganapati homom on August 17 morning.

The five-day monthly puja at the Ayyappa Temple in Chingom will come to a close with the Athazhapuja on August 21 evening.