The ceremonial procession carrying the sacred golden attire, Thanka Anki, set off for Sabarimala from the Sree Parthasarathy Temple at Aranmula on Tuesday morning for the Mandalapuja to be held at the Lord Ayyappa Temple on Saturday.
The golden attire was taken out of the devaswom strong room at Aranmula at 4 am on Tuesday. An Ayyappa idol was adorned with the Thanka Anki and kept at the Aanakkottil of the Parthasarathy Temple from 5 am to 6.45 am for the devotees to have darshan.
Hundreds of devotees, including women and children, thronged the small temple town of Aranmula to worship the sacred attire and to witness the ceremonial procession.
The temple Melsanthi performed Aarati to the `Anki’ before it was taken to a decorated motorised chariot by the devaswom officials around 6.50 am, amidst chants of `Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa’. A 20-member Armed Police team and a team of Travancoe Devaswom Board employees escorted the procession from Aranmula to Sabarimala.
The Thanka Anki, weighing 420 sovereigns, 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 deity, 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 will reach Pampa by 12.30 pm on Friday, accepting ceremonial receptions at various places en route. The Ayyppa Seva Sanghom volunteers will take the sacred attire to Sannidhanam from Pampa in another procession, later, in the afternoon.
Travancore Devaswom Board authorities will receive it at Saramkuthi on the trekking path and the deity will be adorned with it prior to the Deeparadhana, later.
The Ayyappa idol will once again be decorated with the Thanka Anki prior to the Mandala-puja on Saturday. The Mandala-puja will be held in the auspicious Meenom raasi Muhurthom between 11.55 am and 12.25 pm, according to the Tantri. The Ayyappa shrine will be closed after the Athazha puja, later, at 11 pm, marking the culmination of the 41-day penance (Mandala vrithom).
The temple will reopen on December 30 afternoon for the Makarvilakku festival that begins the next day.