Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala opened Sunday afternoon for the five-day monthly rituals in the Malayalam month of Meenom that begins on Monday.
The temple head priest (melsanthi), G. Vishnu Namboodiri, opened the sanctum sanctorum at 5.30 pm. The rituals will begin with the chief priest (tantri), Kandararu Maheswararu, performing Ashtadravya Ganapati homom on Monday morning.
Devaswom Executive Officer, V.S.Jayakumar, said a Kalabhabhishekom will be performed at the Ayyappa shrine from March 17 to 19 and Sahasrakalsabhishekom from March 17 to 19.
Padipuja, Ashtabhishekom, Udayasthamanapuja and Pushpabhishekom will be the other important rituals to be performed at the Ayyappa Temple on all the five days.
Mr. Jayakumar said the monthly puja will come to a close with the Athazhapuja on March 19 evening and the 10-day annual festival will be held from March 20 to 29.
Acute water scarcity
Sabarimala has been witnessing acute water scarcity with the drying up of the Kunnar dam located in the upstream reaches of the Sannidhanam in the forests, with the devaswom authorities reportedly struggling to provide water supply to various accommodation blocks at the Sannidhanam.
Devaswom Executive Officer has sought co-operation from the devotees, saying they should avoid halting at the Sannidhanam.
Mr Jayakumar said the water pumped from river Pampa on the foothills of Sabarimala has been the lone source of water at Sabarimala since the past few weeks.
River Pampa too has almost turned dry, leaving only small patches of water on its bed. Devotees had to skip the customary dip in River Pampa before undertaking the trek to the holy hillock owing to drastic depletion of water level in Pampa.
Mr. Jayakumar said the annual festival would begin with the ritualistic kodiyettu ceremony to be held in the auspicious muhurthom between 10.30 am and 11 am.
The tantri will lead the rituals and hoist the ceremonial flag.
The Utsavabali ritual will be performed at the Ayyappa Temple between 12.30 pm and 3.30 pm from March 21 to 28, Mr. Jayakumar said.
Bhagavatha saptaha yajnom
He said a Bhagavatha saptaha yajnom will be held at the Ayyappa Temple from March 20 to 27. Mekkat Govindan Namboodiri will be the Yajnacharya.
The ritualistic Pallivetta as part of the annual temple festival will be held at Saramkuthi on the trekking path on March 28 evening.
The Arat ceremony will be held at the specially prepared Arat kadavu in river Pampa on March 29 forenoon.
The temple festival will come to a close with the tantri bringing down the ceremonial flag on the holy temple mast, later, in the evening