Ayyappa temple will close after the monthly puja on Sunday

Hundreds of pilgrims climbed the holy hills of Sabarimala braving the rain to pray at the Ayyappa temple which opened on Tuesday afternoon for the five-day puja in the Malayalam month of Thulam beginning Wednesday.

Many are camping at the Sannidhanam for Nirmalya Darshan and to witness the draw of lots to select the next Melsanthis (head priests) for a year’s term at the Ayyappa temple and the adjoining Malikappuram Devi temple.

Devaswom Executive Officer K. Sankaranarayana Pillai said Kalabhabhishekom would be performed at the Ayyappa temple prior to Utchapuja.

The new head priests will be selected after Ushapuja. Hrishikesh Varma and Keerthana Varma, children from the Pandalom Palace, will draw lots at the “Sopanams” of the two temples.

Shortlisted names

The Travancore Devaswom Board has shortlisted nine names for the Ayyappa temple and 10 for the Malikappuram temple after an interview at its headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram.

Those in contention for the Ayyappa temple are T.K. Sreedharan Namboodiri of Thottasserry Illom in Thiruvalla; S.E. Sankaran Namboodiri of Sobha Nivas at Peringol in Thiruvalla; Damodaran Namboodiri of Kunnamkulam Thamattoor Mana in Thrissur; T.M. Unnikrishnan of Cherpulasserry Thekkumparamthu Mana in Palakkad; Krishnan Namboodiri S. of Sreevallabhom at Mathilbhagom in Thiruvalla; Vishnu Namboodiri C.K. of Cherukol Cheruthala Madhom in Mavelikara; N. Damodaran Potti of Pranavom in Vaikom; M.P. Krishnan Namboodiri of Karamana Marangattu Illom in Thiruvananthapuram; and A.N. Unnikrishnan Namboodiri of Karikkode Illom in Koothattukulam.

Those shortlisted for the Malikappuram temple are E. Sankaran Namboodiri from Thiruvalla; Unnikrishnan Namboodiri from Koothattukulam; C.T. Narayanan Namboodiri from Kadalur in Palakkad; S. Kesavan Namboodiri from Kottarkavu in Mavelikara; C.K. Vishnu Namboodiri from Mavelikara; K.G. Pradeepkumar from Irinjalakkuda; N. Madhava Sarma from Alappuzha; P.N. Narayanan Namboodiri from Kothamangalam; K.P. Girish from wandoor in Malappuram; and V. Hariharan Nambyathiri from Indanthurathil Mana in Vaikom.

The Ayyappa temple will be closed after Athazhapuja on Sunday evening.

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