The ceremonial procession carrying the Thiruvabharanam, the traditional jewellery to be put on the presiding deity of the Sabrimala Ayyappa Temple for the Makaravilaku festival, will set off from the Valiyakoickal Sastha Temple at Pandalam on Saturday afternoon.

The sacred jewellery was an offering to the temple by the king of the erstwhile Pandalam royal kingdom, who is believed to be the foster father of Swamy Ayyappa, who is worshipped as the deity in Sabarimala. It has been a custom to take the sacred jewellery in a procession, escorted by a royal representative, to Sabarimala, from Pandalam for the annual Makaravilakku festival.

The Thiruvabharanam will be taken out of the palace strong room on Saturday morning and will be handed over to the Travancore Devswom Board (TDB) officials by 4 a.m. The sacred ornaments will be kept at the adjoining Valiyakoickal Sastha Temple for the darshan till 12.30 p.m. The procession carrying the sacred jewellery, in three wooden boxes, will then start for Sabarimala at 1 p.m. This year, Ashoka Varma will be escorting the ceremonial procession as the royal representative.

The royal entourage will halt at the Ayroor Puthiyakavu Devi Temple near Ranni on Saturday evening and at Laha Sathram on the Mannarakulanji-Chalakkayam main trunk road leading to Sabarimala on Sunday evening.

The procession will reach Sabarimala Sannidhanam on Monday afternoon. The TDB authorities will receive the Thiruvabharanam. The Tantri, Kandararu Rajeevararu, with head priest N. Damodaran Potti, will decorate the Ayyappa idol with the jewellery before the deeparadhana or the offering of lights to the deity at 6.30 p.m.

Sighting of the celestial star, Makarajyoti, on the eastern horizon of the shrine, and a bright flame, Makaravilakku, which will flicker thrice on a remote hillside, is the hallmark of the festival, for which thousands of devotees have begun camping at the Sannidhanam.

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