The 41-day annual Mandalam pilgrimage season at Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala came to a close with the auspicious Mandalapuja on Monday.

Hundreds of devotees coming from different parts of the country thronged the holy hillock to witness the Mandalapuja held around 12.30 pm.

The presiding deity was adorned with the sacred golden attire, Thanka Anki, weighing 420 soverigns offered by the late Chithira Tirunaal Maharaja of the erstwhile Travancore royal dynasty, prior to the Utchapuja.

Kalabhabhishekom

Kalabhabhishekom, an important ritual pouring specially prepared `kalabhom’ (sandal paste) over the Ayyappa idol, was also offered to the deity prior to the Utchapuja, marking the culmination of the Neyyabhishekom offering to the deity during the Mandalam festival.

The Brahmakalasapuja was performed at the Namaskara Mandapam in the forenoon.

The `kalabhom’ offered to the deity was distributed as prasadom among the devotees, later.

Mandalapuja

The auspicious Mandalapuja was performed amidst the Utchapuja. The temple chief priest (Tantri), Kandararu Rajeevaru, assisted by head priest (Melsanthi), Ezhikode Sasi Namboodiri, performed the rituals.

The `Swami Saranam …. Ayyappa Saranom’ prayers rendered by the devotees rented the air and the entire atmosphere was charged with devotion.

As in the previous years, there was not that much rush at the holy hillock on Monday for it being the closing day.

Devaswom Minister, Ramachandran Kadannappally, Travancore Devaswom Board president, M.Rajagopalan Nair, Justice K.S.Radhakrishnan of Kerala High Court, Special Commissioner appointed by the Court, M.Rajendran Nair, Devaswom Commissioner, N.Vasu, Chief Engineer, K.Ravikumar and Sabarimala Executive Officer, V.S.Jayakumar, were among those who attended the ritualistic ceremony.

The Ayyappa Temple will remain closed for the next two days and it will be opened for the Makaravilakku festival at 5 pm on Thursday.

Makaravilakku festival

The Makaravilakku day, on which the celestial star `Makara’ will be sighted on the eastern horizon of the Sannidhanam, falls on January 14. The auspicious `makara-sankrama puja’ will also be performed at the Ayyappa shrine on the Makaravilakku day.

The Kalabhabhishekom, marking the culmination of the Neyyabhisheksom at the Ayyappa Temple during the Makaravilakku festival will be held prior to the Utchapuja on January 18.

The `guruuti’ ritual to propitiate the `bhoothagana’ of Lord Ayyappa will be held at the Malikappuram temple premises on January 19 evening.

The Ayyappa Temple will be closed immediately after the exclusive holy darshan by the royal representative of the Pandalam Palace on January 20 morning.

Our Staff Reporter adds:

Royal representative

P.R.Raghava Varma Raja of Kaippuzha Panthaplavil Palace will be the royal representative of the Pandalam Palace escorting the ceremonial procession carrying `Thiruvabharanam’ from Pandalam to Sabarimala for the forthcoming Makaravilakku festival.

The decision in this regard has been taken at a meeting of the Pandalam Palace Managing Committee held at Pandalam the other day.

Mr Raja will escort the ceremonial procession to Sabarimala from Pandalam Valiyakoickal Sastha Temple on January 12 afternoon.