The personal interview of all eligible priests who have applied for the posts of Melsanthi (head priest) at Lord Ayyappa Temple as well as Malikappuram Devi Temple at Sabarimala will be held at the Travancore Devaswom Board headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram from October 5 to 7, according to board sources.

TDB has found a total of 44 applicants eligible for the post of melsanthi at Lord Ayyappa Temple and 23 for the post of melsanthi at Malikappuram Devi Temple, sources said.

All applicants who score 60 per cent and above marks in the personal interview will be shortlisted for the draw of lots for selecting the new melsanthis.

The interview board comprise of M.Rajagopalan Nair, TDB president, V.Sasi, K.Cicily, both board members, P.V.Nalinakshan Nair, Devaswom Commissioner, Kandararu Maheswararu of Thazhamon Madhom, senior-most Tantri, Kandararu Rajeevaru, present Tantri, a Tantric scholar and a former Sabarimala Melsanthi nominated by the senior Tantri.

Any serving priest having not less than 10 years experience at a temple where daily puja is being held in the morning, noon and evening are eligible to apply for the coveted post of Sabarimala Melsanthi, devaswom sources said.

Draw of lots

The final selection would be through a draw of lots to be held at Sabarimala Sannidhanam on the morning of October 18, first day in the Mayalalam month of Thulam.

Sticking on to the convention, TDB would conduct the draw of lots at the sopanam of the respective temples at Sabarimala to select the new melsanthi a month prior to the beginning of the annual Manadlam pilgrimage season every year.

The tenure of the priests at the Ayyappa Temple as well as the Malikappuram Devi Temple is one year. The outgoing melsanthis’ one-year term expires on November 17 and the newly selected priests will be installed as the next Melsanthi at a customary installation ceremony to be held at the respective temple sopanam the same day evening.