The auspicious Mandalapuja, marking the culmination of the 41-day annual Mandalam festival at Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala, was held with ritualistic fervour on Saturday.

Sabarimala Sannidhanam witnessed heavy rush of devotees who thronged the holy hillock to witness the auspicious Mandalapuja, in the auspicious muhurthom between 11.55 am and 12.25 pm.

The entire atmosphere was charged with devotion and the air was rented with the ‘Swamiyei Saranam Ayyappa’ mantra.

The Neyyabhishekom ritual was stopped at 10 a.m. to facilitate cleaning of the sanctum sanctorum, sopanam and the temple precincts for the Mandalapuja. Many devotees could not perform the Neyyabhishekom as they were waiting for their turn in the long-winding queue for Neyyabhishekom, even when the ritualistic pouring of ghee over the Ayyappa idol was stopped at 10 a.m. and so they poured the ghee in the vessel (Neithoni) kept at the northern mandapam, later.

Kalabhabhishekom

A Kalabhabhishekom, ritualistic pouring of sandal paste (kalabhom) over the Ayyappa idol, was also held prior to the Mandalapuja.

The Tantri, Kandararu Maheswararu, assisted by the Melsanthi, G. Vishnu Namboodiri, has completed the Brahamakalasapuja and Kalabhapuja at the Eastern Mantapam by 11.30 a.m..

The golden urns carrying the Brahmakalasom and Kalabhom (sandal paste) were taken out in a ceremonial procession to the sanctum sanctorum, with the accompaniments of the sacred Marappani and other temple orchestra.

The Kalabhabhishekom, pouring of sandal paste over the Ayyappa idol, marking the culmination of the Neyyabhishekom during the 41-day Mandalam festival, was performed prior to the Mandalapuja.

The Ayyappa idol was adorned with the sacred golden attire, Thanka Anki, prior to the Mandalapuja. The Mandalapuja ritual was performed along with the Utchapuja, later, amidst loud chants of the ‘Swami Saranom’ mantra.

Devaswom Minister, Kadannappally Ramachandran, Mr K. Jayakumar, Devaswom Chief Commissioner, Mr. M. Rajendran Nair, Devaswom Commissioner, Mr. P.V.Nalinakshan Nair, Devaswom Commissioner, Mr.

K. Ravikumar, Chief Engineer and Mr. V.S. Jayakumar, Sabarimala Executive Officer, were among those who attended the Mandalapuja.

The temple will be closed for the next three days, after the Athazhapuja, later, in the evening.

Makaravilakku festival

The Ayyappa shrine will be reopened on December 30 afternoon, for the Makaravilakku festival and the rituals will begin with the Ganapati homom the next day morning.

Makaravilakku day falls on January 14th and the temple will be closed after the Makaravilakku festival on January 20th, 2010.