The ceremonial procession carrying the sacred golden attire, Thanka Anki, for the Madalapuja at Sabarimala sets off from Sree Parthasarathy Temple on the banks of river Pampa at Aranmula on Friday morning.
Hundreds of devotees, including women and children, thronged the Parthasarathy Temple in the morning hours to witness the ceremonial start of the annual procession carrying the golden attire in a motorised chariot modelled on a typical Kerala temple.
The golden attire was taken out of the devaswom strong room at Aranmula at 4 am. An Ayyappa idol adorned with the Thanka Anki was kept at the Aanakkottil of the Parthasarathy Temple from 5 am to 7 am for the devotees to have holy darshan.
The temple priest performed Aarati to the Ayyappa idol before it was taken to the motorised chariot parked on the Temple Road, with the accompaniments of traditional temple orchestra.
The chariot was rolled out of the Temple Road amidst chants of `Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa’ mantra at 7.10 and the entire atmosphere was charged with devotion.
Devaswom Assistant Commissioner, T.P.Sreekumar and a 25-member Armed Police team headed by Surendran Pillai, Deputy Suprintendent of Police, are escorting the procession to Sabarimala.
K.V.Padmanabhan, M.Cicily, both Travancore Devaswom Board members; N.Vasu, Devaswom Commissioner; K.K.Balachandran, Superintendent of Police; K.Ravikumar, TDB Chief Engineer; Reghuvaran Nair, DySP and Malethu Saraladevi, former MLA, were among those who turned up to witness the ceremonial procession.
The Thanka Anki, weighing 420 soverigns, was presented to the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple by the late Chithira Tirunaal Balarama Varma of the erstwhile Travancore royal dynasty as his offering to the presiding deity way back in 1973. Since then, the TDB has made it a custom to take it to Sabarimala in a ceremonial procession for adorning the Ayyappa idol with it for the auspicious Mandala-puja.
The procession reached the Raktakanta Swami Temple at Omalloor near Pathanamthitta, later, in the evening.
It will reach Muringamangalam Temple near Konni on Saturday evening and will halt at the Kakkattu Koickal Sastha Temple at Perinad on December 25 evening.
The procession will be accorded rousing receptions at different points enroute before it reach Pampa on December 26 forenoon.
The Anki will be kept in a wooden box for carrying it from Pampa to the Sannidhanam and the Ayyppa Seva Sanghom volunteers will take the box on their head to Sabarimala in another procession, later in the afternoon.
TDB authorities will receive the Thanka Anki when the procession reaches Saramkuthi on the trekking path. The presiding deity will be decorated with the golden attire prior to the deeparadhana to be held at the Ayyappa Temple, later, in the evening.
The presiding deity will be adorned with the Anki prior to the Mandala-puja to be held as part of the Utcha puja between 1 pm and 1.30 pm on December 27.
The Ayyappa Temple will be closed after the Athazha puja, later, at 11.45 pm, marking the culmination of the 41-day Mandalam festival.
The temple will reopen on December 30 afternoon for the Makarvilakku festival that begins the next day.