SABARIMALA: The Lord Ayyappa shrine here opened on Thursday afternoon for the Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival which begins on Friday, the first day in the Malayalam month of Vrischikam. The outgoing `melsanthi,' M. Sukumaran Namboodiri, opened the sanctum sanctorum at 5 p.m.
The holy hillock witnessed a heavy rush and the queue for holy darshan extended beyond Saramkuthi on the traditional trekking path.
The installation of the new melsanthi at the Ayyappa temple, E. Eeswaran Namboodiri, and the Malikappuram melsanthi, Madhusoodhanan Potti, was held at the respective temple sopanam at 7.15 p.m. Tantri Kandararu Rajeevaru led the installation ceremony.
Both the new melsanthis will assume charge of the temples on Friday.
The temple rituals will begin with the Mahaganapathy Homam on Friday morning.