The Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala will be opened for the annual Makaravilakku festival on Wednesday afternoon.

The head priest (Melsanthi), G. Vishnu Namboodiri, will open the sanctum sanctorum at 5.30 pm on Wednesday in the presence of the chief priest (Tantri), Kandararu Maheswararu and the Devaswom Executive Officer, V.S. Jayakumar.

The rituals will begin with the Tantri performing the Ganapati homom on Thursday morning.

Hundreds of devotees have reached Pampa in the past three days without knowing that the temple will remain closed for three days after the Mandalapuja on December 26. However, they were not permitted to proceed to the Sannidhanam with a view to avoid overcrowding at the holy hillock.

1415 cops deployed

Meanwhile, as many as 1415 police constables have been deployed at the Sannidhanam alone on Tuesday exclusively for crowd management during the first 10 days of the Makaravilakku festival.

Talking to The Hindu, the police officer, A.K. Venugopal, said as many as 17 Deputy SPs, 40 circle inspectors and 138 sub-inspectors have also been deployed at the Sannidhanam on Tuesday. This is besides the police force attached to Special Branch, Bomb Detection and Defusal Squad, State Rapid Action Force and commandos, he said.

Security cover

Mr. Venugopal said the Paandithavalom route too has been brought under tight security cover in view of the heavy pilgrim inflow anticipated from the Vandipperiyar-Pulmedu route. Every pilgrim coming to Sabarimala via Pandithavalaom too will have to undergo a security check.

He said shoulder bags and Irumudikettu would also be subjected to X-Ray screening, if needed. X-Ray screening units have been kept at Neelimala-Bottom, Valiyanadappanthal and at the Northern Gate, he said.

Mr Venugopal said every possible measure has been taken to ensure foolproof security cover to the temple as well as the safety of pilgrims at Sabarimala.

Central Forces

One company each of the National Disaster Response Force and Rapid Action Force attached to CRPF have been camping at Sabarimala since the beginning of the Mandalam festival in November.

Aravana stock

According to devaswom sources, 10 lakh cans (250 ml each) of Aravana has been kept at the devaswom godown as buffer stock to meet its huge demand during the Makaravilaku festival.

Makaravilakku day

The Makaravilakku day that coincides with the sighting of the bright star, Makara, on the eastern horizon of the Sannidhanam falls on January 14.

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