The Lord Ayyappa Temple witnessed heavy rush as hundreds of pilgrims from different parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala, undertook the pilgrimage to the forest shrine, braving the summer heat and dust, on Tuesday.

The head priest (Melsanthi), P.N.Narayanan Namboodiri, opened the temple at 5 am and the daily rituals began with the Tantri, Kandararu Maheswararu, performing the Ashtadravya Maha Ganapati homom followed by Ashtabhishekom in the morning.

The Tantri, assisted by Melsanthi, performed the Brahmakalasapuja and Kalabhapuja at the Namaskara Mandapam of the temple in the forenoon.

The Brahmakalasom and Kalabhom (sandal paste) were taken out in a customary ceremonial procession to the sancturm sanctorum, with the accompaniments of the sacred Marappani and other temple percussion, prior to the Utchapuja.

The holy water (kalasom) prepared in 1000 small copper urns was poured over the Ayyappa idol as part of the Sahasrakalasabhishekom. The Brahmakalasom and Kalabhom were offered to the presiding deity along with the Utchapuja, marking the culmination of the Sahasrakalasabhishekom ritual.

The sandal paste offered to the deity was distributed among the devotees as prasadom, later.

Udayasthamanapuja, Pushpabhishekom, and Padipuja were the other important rituals performed at the Ayyappa Temple on Tuesday.

The temple will be closed after the Athazhapuja, marking the culmination of the five-day monthly rituals in the Malayalam month of Meenom on Wednesday evening.

The Ayyappa Temple will be reopened on April 3 afternoon for the 10-day annual festival to be held from April 4 to 13.

The Tantri will perform the Kodiyettu ceremony on April 4 morning. The auspicious Utsavabali ritual to propitiate the cohorts (Bhoothagana) of the presiding deity will be held in the afternoon on all days from April 5 to 12.

The Pallivetta will be held at Saramkuthi on the traditional trekking path on April 12 night.

The annual temple festival will come to a close with the Aratt ceremony at the specially prepared Aratt kadavu in river Pampa on April 13.