The annual Chithira Aattathirunal festival was celebrated with ritualistic fervour at Sabarimala on Monday.

The head priest (Melsanthi), N. Balamurali, opened the sanctum sanctorum at 5 p.m. and the rituals began with the chief priest (Tantri), Kandararu Rajeevararu, performing the Ashtadravya Maha Ganapathi homom, later.

Hundreds of devotees thronged the temple on the day. Sahasrakalasabhishekom and Kalabhabhishekom were performed at the Ayyappa temple prior to the Utchapuja.

The golden urns carrying the Brahmakalasom and kalabhom (sandal paste) were taken out in a procession to the sanctum sanctorum, with the accompaniments of the sacred Marappani and other traditional temple percussion, for ‘abhishekom’ by 12.15 p.m.

The sandal paste offered to the deity was distributed as prasadom among the devotees, later.

Ashtabhishekom, Udayasthamanapuja, Pushpabhishekom and Padipuja were the other important rituals performed at the temple on Monday.

Mandalam festival

The temple will be reopened on November 15 for the 41-day Mandalam pilgrim season that begins the next day.

The ceremonial installation of the new head priests of the Ayyappa temple and the Malikappuram Devi temple will be held at the respective temple sopanam on November 15 evening.

N. Damodaran Potti, 47, of Vaikom in Kottayam district and A.N. Unnikrishnan Namboodiri, 45, of Karikkode Illom at Karamala in Koothattukulam will be the head priests at the Ayyappa temple and the Malikappuram Devi temple respectively for the one year period beginning from November 16.

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