Selection to be held through draw of lots on October 17

Head priests (Melsanthi) of the Ayyappa temple and Malikappuram Devi temple, both in Sabarimala, will be selected through draw of lots to be held on October 17, the first day of the Malayalam month of Thulam.

For this, the Travancore Devaswom Board has drawn up a shortlist of nine priests for the post of the Melsanthi for the Ayyappa temple and 10 for that of the Malikappuram Devi temple.

According to TDB sources, the short-listing of eligible priests from among the applicants was made on the basis of a personal interview.

The following are the nine priests who have been shortlisted for the post of Sabarimala Melsanthi: T.K. Sreedharan Namboodiri of Thottasserry Illom in Thiruvalla, S.E. Sankaran Namboodiri of Sobha Nivas at Peringol in Thiruvalla, Damodaran Namboodiri of Kunnamkulam Thamattoor Mana in Thrissur, T.M. Unnikrishnan of Cherpulasserry Thekkumparamthu Mana in Palakkad, Krishnan Namboodiri S. of Sreevallabhom at Mathilbhagom in Thiruvalla, Vishnu Namboodiri C.K. of Cherukol Cheruthala Madhom in Mavelikkara, N. Damodaran Potti of Pranavom in Vaikom, M.P. Krishnan Namboodiri of Karamana Marangattu Illom in Thiruvananthapuram, and A.N. Unnikrishnan Namboodiri of Karikkode Illom in Koothattukulam.

The 10 priests shortlisted for the post of Melsanthi at Malikappuram Devi Temple are E. Sankaran Namboodiri from Thiruvalla, Unnikrishnan Namboodiri from Koothattukulam, C.T. Narayanan Namboodiri from Kadalur in Palakkad, S. Kesavan Namboodiri from Kottarkavu in Mavelikkara, C.K. Vishnu Namboodiri from Mavelikkara, K.G. Pradeepkumar from Irinjalakkuda, N. Madhava Sarma from Alappuzha, P.N. Narayanan Namboodiri from Kothamangalam, K.P. Girish from Vandoor in Malappuram, and V. Hariharan Nambyathiri from Indanthurathil Mana in Vaikom.

The interview board comprised of K. Jayakumar, TDB Chief Commissioner; N. Vasu, Devaswom Commissioner; Kandararu Maheswararu, senior Sabarimala Tantri; Kandararu Rajeevararu, Sabarimala Tantri, and Akkeeramon Kalidasa Bahattathiri of Thiruvalla Kuzhikkattu Illom.

The Special Commissioner appointed by the Kerala  High Court will personally supervise the entire proceedings to be held at the sanctum sanctorum at Sabarimala temple and announce the results there itself.

Both the newly selected Melsanthis will assume charge on the eve of the 41-day Mandalam pilgrimage season in the Malayalam month of Vrischikom.

The TDB has been selecting head priests for Sabarimala shrines through ‘draw of lots’ since 1970, when large scale corruption was alleged in the conventional selection process.