Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala was opened on Sunday afternoon for two-month-long Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season that begins on Monday the first day in the Malayalam month of Vrischikom.

The head priest (Melsanthi), N.Vishnu Namboodiri, has opened the sanctum sanctorum in an atmosphere charged with devotion at 5.30 pm on Sunday.

The holy hillock of Sabarimala witnessed heavy rush as hundreds of pilgrims from different parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka trekked the hills, braving the heavy downpour in theforests, on Sunday.

Temple chief priest (Tantri), Kandararu Maheswararu, performed the ritualistic installation of the new Sabarimala Melsanthi, G.Vishnu Namboodiri of Ezhakkadavu Cheruthala Madhom at Mavelikkara-Cherukol,at a ceremonial function held at the sopanam of the Ayyappa temple at 6.30 pm.

Mr K.V.Madhavan Namboodiri of Kodungalloor was installed as the new Melsanthi at Malikappuram Devi Temple, later.

The one-year `Purappedasanthi’ term of the outgoing Melsnthis at both the Ayyappa Temple and Malikappuram Devi Temle ends on Sunday and they have handed over the keys of the sanctorum to the devaswom manager in the evening.

The newly installed head priests would assume charge on the first day in the Malayalam month of Vrischikom on Monday. The temple rituals will begin with the Tantri performing Ashtadravya

Ganapati homom on Monday morning followed by Ashtabhishekom. The auspicious Neyyabhishekom ritual at the Ayyappa Temple will also begin on Monday morning.

The Mandalapuja, marking the culmination of the 41-day Mandalam festival will be held on December 26 and the temple will be closed the same day evening.

Makaravilakku festival

The Ayyappa Temple will reopen on December 30 afternoon for the Makaravilakku festival that begins on December 31. The Makaravilakku day falls on January 14, 2010 and the temple will be closed on January

19 evening, marking the culmination of the Makaravilakku festival.

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