Heavy rush as Ayyappa temple opens
Chants and prayers of pilgrims will again echo through the sacred forests at Sabarimala as the Makaravilakku festival begins at the Ayyappa temple on Monday.
Head priest (Melsanthi) N. Damodaran Potti, accompanied by chief priest (Tantri) Kandararu Rajeevararu, opened the sanctum sanctorum at 5.30 p.m. on Sunday. The sacred fire (Aazhi) at Lower Tirumuttom was lit with flames brought from the sanctum sanctorum .
The rituals will begin with the Tantri performing Ashtadravya Maha Ganapati Homam in the morning. Neyyabhishekom will begin soon after.
Thousands of pilgrims had been camping at Pampa and Nilackal for the past two days, and the police allowed them to trek the holy hills only on Sunday afternoon to avoid overcrowding at the Sannidhanam.
Devaswom Executive Officer K. Sankaranarayana Pillai told The Hindu that sufficient stocks of Aravana and Appam had been kept ready. The Aravana buffer stock came to nine lakh tins (250 ml each).
The famous Petta Thullal at Erumely will be held on January 11.
The ceremonial procession carrying the sacred jewellery Thiruvabharanam to Sabarimala will set off from the Valiyakoickal Sastha temple at Pandalam on January 12. A group of Guruswamis, led by Kulathinal Gangadharan Pillai, will carry the jewellery on their head all the way to Sabarimala from Pandalam.
The Thiruvabharanam procession will reach the Sannidhanam in the afternoon of January 14. The Ayyappa idol will be adorned with the jewellery prior to Deeparadhana.
The Makara star will shine on the eastern horizon of the Sannidhanam as Makarajyoti and a Deeparadhana will be performed atop the distant hill of Ponnambalamedu deep inside the forests immediately after the ritual at the temple.
Kalabhabhishekom marking the culmination of Neyyabhishekom will be held prior to Utchapuja on January 18. The Guruti ritual at the Malikappuram Devi temple will be performed after the Ayyappa temple is closed in the evening of January 19.
The next morning, the Ayyappa temple will be closed after the royal representative has his customary darshan.