The Ayyappa Maha Sangamom, congregation of Ayyappa devotees, organised by Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajom (SASS) at the Mahadevar Temple at Chengannur on Tuesday has decided to observe the 41-day annual Mandalam pilgrim season at Sabarimala a holy period in South India.

The meeting attended by Ayyappa devotees from different parts of the State as well as the neighbouring States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, has also called upon the Government to declare Makaravilakku day a State holiday.

Addressing the meet, Mr Kummanam Rajashekharan, Samajom organising secretary, said the Hindu households across the State would observe the holy month by reciting the religious texts, `Ayyappa Bhagavathom’ by Traiyyakshara Chaitanya and `Sree Bhoothanathopakhyanom’ by Kallarackal Krishnan Kartha. Mr Rajashekaharan said there were increasing demands from different quarters for translating these two texts that depict legends of Lord Ayyappa and the Ayyappa cult into different South Indian languages as well as Hindi so that the observation of holy season could be extended to various other parts of the country too.

The meeting has also decided to illuminate houses with oil lamps, singing Ayyappa bhajans and chanting Ayyappa mantra, during the twilight hour on the Makaravilakku day coinciding with the auspicious deeparadhana at Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala.

Action plan

The meeting has chalked out a comprehensive action plan to develop `Poonkavanom’ at all Hindu households by growing fruit trees and flowering plants in their courtyard.

Mr Rajashekharan said each household would plant sapling of atleast one tree sapling in their courtyard on the Makaravilakku day. The Guruswamis attached to Samajom would supply saplings to every household, spreading the message of Ayyappa cult in the next two months, he said.

50 service centres

The Samajom would open as many as 50 service centres for free feeding of Sabarimala pilgrims and to provide them medicated drinking water and shelter in different parts of the State during the forthcoming Mandalam-Makaravilakku season.

Mr Rajashekharan said the Samajom was getting very good response for the Annadanam to feed Sabarimala pilgrims at its camps during the annual pilgrim season. The SASS volunteers would also collect ice and vegetables from the households across the State for the proposed Annadanam, he said.

Senior Sabarimala Tantri (chief priest), Kandararu Maheswararu, inaugurated the meet by lighting a ceremonial lamp at the Mahadevar Temple auditorium. K.G.Jayan, renowned vocalist and SASS president, presided the function. N.Balamurali and Eeswaran namboodiri, the Melsanthi-designates at the Lord Ayyappa Temple and Malikappuram Devi Temple respectively, were honoured at the function. Swami Ayyappadas, SASS general secretary, welcomed the gathering.

V.K.Sankaran Namboodiri of Thiruvalla who had served as the Melsanthi at Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple for a long period from 1961 onwards was felicitated on the occasion.

T.R.Ramanathan, Kalathil Chandrashekharan, leaders of the Alangattu and Ambalappuzha Petta Thullal teams; P.P.Perisseri Pillai, head of Erumeli Puthenveedu; Vasudeva Sarma, former Sabarimala Melsanthi; Kulathinal Gangadharan Pillai and Prathapan, Guruswamis who carry the Thiruvabharanam to Sabarimala from Pandalam for the Makaravilakku festival, were also felicitated at the meet.

M.N.Sukumaran Nambiar, SASS national president, Gopakumar, reception committee convener, Mathilakom Manoharan, temple advisory committee president and Sanu, general convener, also spoke.