The Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala has been closed after the exclusive holy darshan for the representative of the Pandalam Palace, Venugopala Varma Raja, on Wednesday morning, marking the grand finale of the two-month long Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season.

The Melsanthi, G.Vishnu Namboodhiri, has opened the sanctum sanctorum at 5 am. The procession carrying the sacred jewellery, Thiruvabharanam, began its return trail to Pandalam immediately after the Ganapati homom at the temple.

The royal representative reached the Ayyappa Temple premises and offered prayers at the temple, later. As it being the custom, no other person was permitted to enter the Ayyappa Temple and offer prayers there on Wednesday.

The Melsanthi closed the temple after covering the Ayyappa idol with sacred ash (vihbuti).

The royal representative descended the gold-plated holy 18-steps and adhering to the custom and practice, he had handed over the keys of the sanctum sanctorum, along with a purse for conducting the temple rituals for the next one year period, to the Melsanthi infront of the Pathinettampady at the Lower Tirumuttom, later. Devaswom Executive Officer, V.S.Jayakumar, was also present.

The royal representative climbed down the holy hillock and escorted the procession carrying the Thiruvabharanam back to Pandalam Palace, later.

The royal entourage accompanying the Thiruvabharanam will reach the Sastha Temple at Perinad by Thursday noon, after a night’s halt at Laha Sathram on Wednesday.

The presiding deity at Perinad Sastha Temple will be adorned with the sacred jewellery prior to the Utchapuja, later.

The Thriuvabharanam procession will halt at Peinad temple on Thursday and will proceed to Aranmula on Friday.

The Thiruvabharanam will be brought back to the Srambickal Palace at Pandalam on Saturday morning for keeping it at the strong room there till the next Makaravilakku festival.