Devotees throng hillock ahead of Malayalam new year day

The Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala witnessed heavy rush on Friday evening as hundreds of devotees from all over the State and neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh thronged the hillock to worship the deity on the Malayalam new year day on Saturday.

Head priest N. Damodaran Potti opened the sanctum sanctorum at 5.30 p.m. and lit the fire place (Aazhi) at the lower Tirumuttom with the fire brought from the sanctum.

Kandararu Maheswararu, senior Sabarimala tantri of the Thazhamon Tantri family at Chengannur, assumed charge as the chief priest (Tantri) at the Ayyappa shrine on Friday.

Kandararu Rajeevararu was the chief priest at the Ayyappa shrine during the past one year and Maheswarararu, his paternal uncle, assumed charge for the next one year on the basis of an internal arrangement made between the two branches of the Tantri family for carrying out duties at Sabarimala in alternate years.

The rituals at the shrine will begin with the tantri performing the Ashtadravya Maha Ganapati Homom on Saturday morning.

A Laksharchana will be performed at the temple on Saturday morning. The tantri will lead the ritual. Sahasrakalasabhishekom, Ashtabhishekom, Udayasthamanapuja, and Padipuja will be the other rituals to be performed at Sabarimala on all days during the five-day monthly puja, said K. Sankaranarayana Pillai, Devaswom executive officer. The Ayyappa temple will be closed after the Athazhapuja on August 21 evening, marking the culmination of the five-day rituals in the Malayalam month of Chingom.

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