Hundreds throng Pandalam to witness the handing over of the sacred jewels
: The Thiruvabharanam procession, carrying the jewellery to adorn the deity at the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple, set off from the Valaiyakoickal Sastha Temple in the palace town of Pandalam on Sunday.
The Pandalam Palace authorities handed over the jewellery to the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) officials at 4 a.m. It was kept at the Sastha Temple till 12.30 p.m. for devotees to offer worship.
The head priest conducted the special puja and garlanded the Guruswamis who will carry the Thiruvabharanam (in three wooden boxes) to the Sannidhanam for the Makarvilakku festival. The 22-member team is headed by Guruswami Kulathinal Gangadharan Pillai.
A kite, which pilgrims reverently call ‘Krishnapparanthu’, was sighted in the skies, above the temple complex.
The procession set off at 1 p.m., after the eldest male member of the Pandalam royal family, P. Ramavarma Raja, handed over the ceremonial sword to Dileep Varma Raja who is the royal representative accompanying the sacred jewellery to Sabarimala, this year.
The royal representative was taken in a palanquin to the Kaippuzha Palace at Kulanada on the other bank of the Achencoil to seek the blessings of the eldest female member of the family.
The jewellery will be adorned on the Ayyappa idol before ‘deeparadhana’ at 6.30 p.m. on Tuesday, which will coincide with the sighting of the celestial star, ‘Makara’, on the eastern horizon and the ‘Makaravilakku’ on the Ponnambalamedu hills.
The royal-designate will reach the Sannidhanam on January 16 to oversee the rituals in the next three days.
Kalabhabhishekam, marking the culmination of the Neyyabhishekom ritual at the temple, will be performed before the ‘utcha pooja’ on January 18.
The Ayyappa Temple will open on January 20 morning exclusively to allow the royal representative to have the customary holy darshan. It will close at 7 a.m., marking the culmination of this year's Makaravilakku festival.