Large number of devotees thronged the famed Sabarimala temple here on Tuesday seeking the blessings of Lord Ayyappa as the Mandala puja was held at the hillock shrine in the afternoon, marking the culmination of the 41-day-long first leg of the annual pilgrimage season.
The puja was performed under the aegis of tantri (head priest) Kandararu Rajeevaru after adorning the idol of the principal deity with thanka anki, the sacred golden attire brought at the Sannidhanam (temple complex) on Monday evening.
Special rituals including kalabhabhishekam and kalasabhishekam were held as devotees waited in long queues chanting Swamiye saranam Ayyappa to have a glimpse of Lord Ayyappa on the auspicious occasion.
Prominent officials of Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) were also present at the sanctum sanctorum when the ceremonies were held.
The temple was closed soon after the Mandala puja and will be opened in the evening for devotees to offer prayers before closing in the night.
The shrine will be closed for three days and reopen on December 30 at 5 p.m. for the Makaravilakku ceremonies, the second leg of the pilgrimage season.
The Makaravilakku ritual will be held on January 14, 2023. Thereafter, the shrine will be closed on January 20, marking the end of the annual pilgrimage season.
Earlier in the day, Devaswom Minister K. Radhakrishnan said despite the huge turnout of devotees, the Mandala puja period went off well without much complaint.
Over 30 lakh devotees reached the hillock shrine during the 41-day-long season but things went well through the coordinated efforts of various government departments, he told reporters after attending a review meeting at the guest house here.
The TDB, the apex temple body that manages the shrine, said ₹222.98 crore revenue was generated by the shrine in the last 39 days of the two-month-long annual pilgrimage season.