Ayyappa Temple closes after Mandala-puja
The mandala puja, marking culmination of the 41-day annual Mandalam pilgrim season, was performed at the Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala on Thursday.
Hundreds of pilgrims from different parts of the country thronged the holy hillock to witness the auspicious ritual and to have the darshan of Lord Ayyappa on this special occasion.
The temple was opened at 3 a.m. on Thursday morning and the rituals began with the chief priest (Tantri), Kandararu Maheswararu, performing the Ashtadravya Maha Ganapati homam followed by Ashtabhishekom.
The auspicious Neyyabhishekom, pouring of ghee over the Ayyappa idol, came to a close by 10 a.m. in view of the Mandala-puja.
The Fire and Rescue Force personnel thoroughly washed the temple premises and the preparations for the Mandala-puja began at 11 a.m. The Tantri, assisted by the head priest (Melsanthi), P.N. Narayanan
Namboodiri, performed the Brahamakalasapuja and Kalabhapuja at the Namaskara Mandapam by 11.30 am. The Brahmakalasom and the Kalabhom (sandal paste) were taken out in a ceremonial procession to the sanctum sanctorum for the auspicious Abhishekom as part of the Mandala-puja.
The presiding deity was adorned with the Thanka Anki, a golden attire weighing 420 sovereigns presented by the late Chithira Tirunaal Balarama Varma of the erstwhile Travancore kingdom, prior to the Mandala-puja.
The Tantri, assisted by Melsanthi, had performed the Mandala-puja in the auspicious muhurtham between 12.15 pm and 12.25 pm in an atmosphere charged with devotion. The sandal paste offered to the deity was distributed as prasadam among the devotees, later.
M.P.Govindan Nair, Travancore Devaswom Board president; P.K.Kumaran, board member; K.Babu, Special Commissioner appointed by the Kerala High Court; P.Venugopal, Devaswom Commissioner; K.R.Jyothilal,
Devaswom Secretary, and Jolly Ullas, Chief Engineer, were among those who attended the ceremony.
The temple was closed after the Mandala-puja followed by Utchapuja at 1 pm.
The Ayyappa Temple will remain closed after the Athazhapuja on Wednesday evening till December 30.
The Ayyappa temple will reopen at 5.30 pm on December 30 for the Makaravilakku festival.
The famous Petta Thullal at Erumeli will be held on January 11 and the customary procession carrying the Thiruvabharanam to Sabarimala will set off from Pandalam on January 12.
The Makaravilakku day falls on January 14 and the Guruti ritual marking the culmination of the annual Makaravilakku festival will be performed at the Malikappuram Devi Temple premises on January 19 evening.
The Ayyappa Temple will be closed after the customary holy darshan permitted exclusively to the royal representative on January 20 morning.
Pilgrim dies of heart attack
A 72-year old pilgrim, identified as Viswanatha Panicker from Udumbanchola in Idukki, and a police constable from Karnataka, Mallesha, 57, of Door No. 463, Jalapuri Police Lane, Mysore, died of heart attack at Sabarimala on Wednesday.
Mallesha was on special duty at the Valiya Nadappanthal at Sabarimala when he had suffered severe chest pain in the afternoon. He was rushed to the nearby Government Hospital where he breathed his last, later.
The Ayyappa Seva Sanghom volunteers shifted both the bodies to Pampa, later.
With this, the death toll due to heart attack at Sabarimala in the past 40 days has gone up to 29, the police said.