Draw of lots to select new Melsanthi today

The Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala has been opened on Friday afternoon for the five-day monthly rituals in the Malayalam month of Thulam that begins on Saturday.

Melsanthi (head priest), N. Vishnu Namboodiri, has opened the sanctum sanctorum at 5.30 pm and rituals will begin only with the Tantri (chief priest), Kandararu Maheswararu, performing Ashtadravya Ganapati homom on Saturday morning.

According to Executive Officer, V.S. Jayakumar, a Sahasrakalasabhishekom and Kalabhabhishekom will be performed at the Ayyappa temple on October 18, 20 and 21. Padipuja, Udayasthamanapuja, Pushpabhishekom and Ashtabhishekom will be performed on all the five days.

Heavy rush

The Sabarimala Sannidhanam has been witnessing heavy rush since Friday afternoon as hundreds of devotees reached the holy hillock to witness the process of Melsanthi selection to be held on Saturday.

The draw of lots to select new Melsanthi for the Ayyappa Temple and Malikappuram Devi Temple for one year term would be held at the respective temple sopanam at Sabarimala at 7.30 am on Saturday.

Priests short-listed

The Travancore Devaswom Board has shortlisted 10 priests for the Ayyappa Temple and eight others for the Malikappuram Devi Temple on the basis of a personal interview for the final selection through draw of lots.

The following are the nine priests who have been shortlisted for the post of Sabarimala Melsanthi:

N. Balamurali of Manikanteswaram Edamana Illom in Thiruvananthapuram, N. Damodaran Poti of Vaikkom Arattukulangara, C.N. Krishnan Namboodiri of Annamanada Cheruthottathu Mana in Thrissur, T.M. Unnikrishnan Namboodiri of Karalmanna Thekumparmbathu Mana in Palakkad, E.M. Krishnan Namboodiri (the head priest at Tirunelli Temple in Wayanad), S.E. Sankaran Namboodiri of Kavumbhagom Peringol Sobha Niwas near Thiruvalla, P.N.Narayanan Namboodiri of Thrikkariyoor Panangattambilly Mana, G. Vishnu Namboodiri of Mavelikkara Cherukol Ezhakkadavu Cheruthala Madhom, M.P. Krishnan Namboodiri of Karamana-Kalady Marangatu Illom in Thiruvananthapuram and P. Kesavan Nambodiri of Alappuzha Periyamana Illom.

The TDB had introduced the system of ‘draw of lots’ for selecting the new Melsanthi at Sabarimala every year way back in 1970 following largescale allegations of corruption involved in the conventional selection process.

The Special Commissioner appointed by the Kerala High Court, M. Rajendran Nair, will personally supervise the entire proceedings and announce the results there itself.

Both the newly selected Melsanthis will assume charge on the first day in the Malayalam month of Vrischikom that falls on November 16 this year.