Ayyappa devotees are pouring into the temple town of Pandalam to worship the Thiruvabharanam, sacred jewellery of the presiding deity of Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala, that has been kept for public viewing at Srambickal Palace.
The Thiruvabharanam darshan began at the palace, which adjoins the Valiyakoickal Sastha temple, at the start of the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival on November 17. However, the palace strong room was closed and the Thiruvabharanam darshan stopped for 10 days following the death of a female member of the Pandalam royal family in December.
Palace authorities said hundreds of devotees from across the country visit the palace to worship the Thiruvabharanam daily. The darshan time is from 5.30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Offering from king
The Thiruvabharanam is believed to have been offered to the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple by the king of the erstwhile royal kingdom of Pandalam (Pandalam Raja) centuries ago. The Pandalam Raja is believed to be the foster father of Lord Ayyappa.
It has been the custom for the past several decades to take the Thiruvabharanam to Sabarimala and decorate the presiding deity with it prior to ‘deeparadhana' on Makaravilakku day on the first day in the Malayalam month of Makaram.
The Travancore Devaswom Board takes the sacred jewellery to Sabarimala in a ceremonial procession from Pandalam for the Makaravilakku festival.
This year, the procession, escorted by a royal representative of the Pandalam palace, Devaswom officials and a special team of the armed police, will set off from Pandalam on Tuesday afternoon.
P.R. Raghava Varma Raja of the Kaippuzha Panthaplavil palace will be the royal representative escorting the ceremonial procession this year. The procession carrying the Thiruvabharanam will reach Sabarimala Sannidhanam on Friday afternoon, after halting at the Ayroor Bhagavathy temple, the Perinad Sastha temple and Laha Sathram en route. The Thiruvabharanam will be brought back to the Pandalam palace after the Makaravilakku festival ends for safekeeping in the palace strongroom.