The Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala has been opened for the Chithira Aattathirunal festival on Monday.

Melsanthi (head priest) N. Balamurali, accompanied by Tantri Kandararu Rajeevararu (chief priest), opened the sanctum sanctorum at 5.30 p.m. on Sunday.

The rituals will begin with an Ashtadravya Maha Ganapathi Homam in the morning. Kalabhabhishekom, Pushpabhishekom, Ashtabhishekom, Udayasthamanapuja and Padipuja will be performed in connection with the festival. The temple will be closed after Athazhapuja.

Annual pilgrimage

The temple will reopen on Thursday afternoon for the two-month Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season beginning the next day.

The new head priests of the Ayyappa Temple and the Malikappuram Devi temple would be installed on Thursday evening, Devaswom Executive Officer K. Sankaranarayana Pillai said.