The annual Niraputhari festival was celebrated at Sabarimala with ritualistic fervour on Friday.

Hundreds of Ayyappa devotees from different parts of South India thronged the holy hillock this morning to witness the annual event which, they believe, will bring good luck and prosperity in the year ahead.

The Melsanthi, G.Vishnu Namboodiri, opened the sanctum sanctorum at 4 am and the rituals began with the Tantri, Kandarau Maheswararu, performing the Ashtadravya Ganapati homom, later.

The rituals in connection with Niraputhari began at 5.30 am. Devotees have kept bunches of fresh paddy spikes before the holy 18 steps as their offering to the presiding deity.

The Melsanthi and other priests took the paddy spikes on their head in a ceremonial procession for performing puja at the Nalambalom of the temple around 5.40 am. Tantri performed the rituals at the Naalambalom and the paddy spikes were taken to the sanctum sanctorum for offering it to the presiding deity, later.

`Payasom’ prepared with fresh rice and rice flakes made of fresh paddy were offered to the deity as `Nivedyom’, marking the culmination of the ritual.

The paddy spikes offered to the deity was distributed as `prasadom’ among the devotees present at the temple sopanam, later.

M.Rajagopalan Nair, Travancore Devaswom Board president, V.Sasi, K.Sisily, both members, P.V.Nalinakshan Nair, Devaswom Commissioner, K.Ravikumar, Chief Engineer, V.S.Jayakumar, Executive Officer and Jolly Ullas, Executive Engineer were among those who attended the function.

Prior to the Utchapuja at the Ayyappa shrine an auspicious Sahasrakalasabhishekom ritual was performed.

More In: Kerala | National