Hundreds of pilgrims from different parts of South India thronged the holy hillock of Sabarimala to witness the auspicious Utsavabali held as part of the annual festival at the Lord Ayyappa Temple on Thursday.

The Tantri, Kandararu Maheswararu, assisted by Melsanthi, N. Balamurali, performed the ritual after the Utchapuja.

Pushpabhishekom and Padipuja were the other major rituals performed at the Ayyappa Temple on Thursday.

The Palliveta will be held at Saramkuthi on the trekking path on April 4 evening and the 10-day festival will come to a close after the Aratt ceremony on April 5.

Pilgrim dies of heart attack

A 62-year old pilgrim, identified as Muthu Sreenivasan of Lake Road at Bandup in Mumbai, died of heart attack at the Government Cardiology Centre at Neelimala on the Pampa-Sannidhanam path on Thursday afternoon.

Mr Sreenivasan had developed severe chest pain while climbing the Neelimala hill around 3.45 pm.

The Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom (ABASS) volunteers rushed him to the Cardiology Centre at Neelimala where he had succumbed to his cardiac ailment, later, by 4.05 pm, according to hospital sources.

The body was shifted to Pampa and from there to Mumbai, later, in the afternoon.

Amrita Medical Centre

The Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), Kochi, has opened its medical centre at Pampa on Tuesday to provide free treatment for pilgrims during the ongoing annual festival at the Lord Ayyappa Temple.

The centre will remain open round-the clock till the closure of the Ayyappa Temple on April 5 evening, AIMS sources said.

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