The five-day monthly rituals at the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala came to a close with the Athazhapuja on Wednesday evening.

A Sahasrakalasabhishekom and Kalabhabhishekom were performed at the Ayyappa shrine prior to the Utchapuja. The chief priest (Tantri), Kandararu Maheswararu, assisted by the head priest (Melsanthi), N. Damodaran Potti, and other priests, prepared the holy water in 1,000 small copper urns and the Brahmakalasom.

The Kalabhapuja was performed at the Namaskara Mandapam in the forenoon. The Brahmakalasom (holy water) and the sandal paste (kalabhom) in two silver urns were taken out in a customary ceremonial procession, with the accompaniments of the sacred Marappani and other traditional temple percussion, for pouring it over the Ayyappa idol by 12.15 p.m.

The tantri performed the Abhishekom and the sandal paste offered to the deity was distributed among the devotees as prasadom, later. Padipuja, Udayasthamanapooja and Pushpabhishekom were the other important rituals performed at the Ayyappa Temple on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom has deployed 300 volunteers attached to its Karanataka unit at Sabarimala and Pampa for an intensive cleaning operations.

According to the sanghom general secretary, N.Velayudhan Nair, the volunteers will continue the cleaning drive on Thursday in an effort to keep the pilgrim centre clean and hygienic.

He said the sanghom has been carrying out cleaning drive at Sabarimala every month, immediately after the culmination of the monthly rituals.

The Ayyappa Temple will be reopened on September 14 afternoon for the seven-day Onam festival puja that begins on September 15, according to the Devaswom executive officer, K.Sankaranarayana Pillai.

The Melsanthi would host the Uthradasadya (feast) to the devotees as well as the priests at the Sabarimala on September 15 noon while a devotee from Seethathode, Manikantadas, would be hosting the Onam feast (Onasadya) on September 16. The temple will be closed after the Onam festival on September 21 evening, he said.

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