With two days left for the closure of the Lord Ayyappa Temple, after the culmination of the 41-day Mandalam festival, at Sabarimala, the holly began to witness heavy rush from Saturday afternoon.

Queue of pilgrims waiting inside the barricades for the holy darshan was extended upto Marakkoottom in the afternoon.

Police personnel had to face a tough time in regulating the crowd.

However, there was no congestion at the temple precincts, facilitating holy darshan for all devotees at the Ayyappa shrine on Satruday.

Preparations for Mandalapuja

Meanwhile, the Travancore Devaswom Board has made elaborate arrangements for the Mandalapuja to be held along with an auspicious Kalababhishekom prior to the Utchapuja on Monday.

Sabarimala Executive Officer, V.S.Jayakumar, told The Hindu that sufficient stock of Aravana has been ensured to meet its huge demand during the last lap of the Mandalam festival.

Special arrangements have been made for the devotees to offer Neyyabhishekom at the Ayyappa temple and to get the ghee offered to the deity as prasadom at separate counters, he said.

Additional counters have been opened for distribution of medicated drinking water at Marakkoottom, Sabaripeetom and along the trekking path.

Annadanam

Mr Jayakumar said the four free feeding (Annadanam) centres at the Sanidhanam run by the TDB, Ayyappa Seva Sanghom, Paropakar Trust and SM Enterprises at the U-Turn have been serving food to not less than

one lakh pilgrims on a daily basis.

Besides gthe TDB, the Coimbatore-based PAmpa Vigneswara Sadyalaya Trust and the Ayyappa Seva Sanghom were running round-the-clock Annadanam centres at Pampa.