The holy hillock of Sabarimala witnessed heavy rush when the Lord Ayyappa Temple was reopened for the annual Makaravilakku festival on Wednesday afternoon.
The Melsanthi, G.Vishnu Namboodiri, opened the sanctum sanctorum at 5.30 pm in the presence of the Tantri, Kandararu Maheswararu, Devaswom Executive Officer, V.S.Jayakumar and other TDB officials.
Hundreds of pilgrims from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and from different parts of the State have been camping at Pampa and Nilackal since the past three days, awaiting the temple reopening.
Pilgrims were permitted to climb the Neelimala only on Wednesday morning.
However, police blocked the pilgrims for a few hours in the afternoon, due to the heavy rush, with a view to ease human pressure at the holy hillock.
The rituals will begin with the Tantri performing Ganapati homom on Thursday morning followed by Ashtabhishekom and Neyyabhishekom.
The customary Petta-thullal at Erumely by the Ambalappuzha and Alangadu teams will be held on January 11.
The ceremonial procession carrying the Thiruvabharanam, sacred jewellery, for the Makaravilakku festival will set off to Sabarimala from the Pandalam Valiyakoickal Sastha Temple on January 12.
The customary Pampa-Vilakku and Pampa-Sadya will be held on the banks of river Pampa on the foothills on January 13.
The Makaravilakku day falls on January 14. The Ayyappa idol will be adorned with the Thiruvabharanam prior to the deeparadhana the same afternoon.
Sighting of the celestial star, Makara, on the eastern horizon of the Sannidhanam and a bright flame, `Makara-jyoti’, that usually flickers thrice on a remote hillside facing the Ayyappa Temple will take place immediately after the deeparadhana.
Tens of thousands of Ayyappa devotees used to throng the pilgrim centre to witness the Makara-jyoti, which, they consider the most auspicious event at Sabarimala.
Kalabhabhishekom and Guruti
The Kalabhabhishekom, marking the culmination of the Neyyabhishekom offering to the presiding deity during the Makaravilakku festival will be performed prior to the Utchapuja on January 18.
The annual Guruti ritual to propitiate the cohorts (Bhoothagana) of Lord Ayyappa will be performed at Malikappuram on January 19 evening.
The Ayyappa shrine will be closed immediately after the exclusive customary holy darshan by the representative of the Pandalam Palace at 7 am on January 20.