Work to be completed before pilgrim season
Four major pilgrim amenity projects will be launched at the Sannidhanam of the Lord Ayyappa temple on Monday as part of the Sabarimala Master Plan.
Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) president M.P. Govindan Nair will lay the foundation stone for the proposed two-storey modern Annadana Mandapam at the Sannidhanam. Senior Tantri (chief priest) Kandararu Maheswararu will perform the Bhumipuja.
K. Jayakumar, chairman of the High-Power Committee (HPC) for implementation of the master plan, will preside. Subhash Vasu and P.K. Kumaran, TDB members; and P. Venugopal, Devaswom Commissioner; will address the function.
A flyover linking Malikappuram with the TDB Annadanam hall, construction of an exclusive area for coconut offerings, and remodelling of the Lower Tirumuttom are the other projects to be launched at the Sannidhanam as part of the master plan.
Mr. Vasu told The Hindu that the ground floor of the Annadana Mandapam would be completed by October-end and its first floor in the next six months. He said the other three projects would be completed well before the beginning of the forthcoming Mandalam-Makaravilaku pilgrim season.
Mr. Venugopal said neither the TDB nor the HPC had to bear any expenditure for the Annadana Mandapam or the other projects. Sunil Swami and Ashok Swami of the Sabari Group of companies and S. Sudarshan Reddy of the Andhra Pradesh unit of the Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajom will sponsor the two Annadana Mandapams at an estimated cost of Rs.6 crore each, said Mr. Venugopal.
Mr. Vasu said the HPC should pursue the project proposal to construct a two-storey Valiya Nadappanthal at the Sannidhanam on a priority basis.
He said the committee has already finalised its design and detailed project report.
Rush of pilgrims
There was heavy rush of devotees at the Lord Ayyappa temple on Sunday. Hundreds of pilgrims visited the temple, braving heavy downpour. Kalabhabhishekom, Sahasrakalasabhishekom, Pushpabhishekom, and Udayasthamanapuja were the special rituals performed at the temple on Sunday.
The temple will be closed after Athazhapuja on Wednesday evening, marking the culmination of the five-day monthly rituals in the first Malayalam month of Chingom.