SABARIMALA: The hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa here on Sunday was opened for the 21 day-long Makaravilakku festival season, marking the concluding phase of the annual pilgrimage season. Melsanthi Vasudevan Nampoothiri opened the Sreekovil of the temple at 5 pm in the presence of Thantri Kandararu Rajivararu. No rituals were performed at the Sreekovil of the temple in the evening, in line with the existing practice.
Several thousand pilgrims thronged the hill shrine when the Sreekovil of the temple was opened for the Makaravilakku festival. The flyover, Holy Steps, Lower Thirumuttom and Valiyanadapandal streamed with devotees when the temple was opened at 5 pm. At Valiyanadapandal, there was a long line, with the police struggling to rein in the pilgrims.
Neyyabhishekam @ 3.30 am
Neyyabhishekam, one of the major offerings, will begin at 3.30 am on Monday and pilgrims can offer it till noon. Pettathullal ritual will take place at Erumely on January 11. Thiruvabharanam procession to Sabarimala from Pandalam and Marakavilakku on January 14 are the major highlights of the Makaravilakku festival,
Pettathullal ritual, marking the memory of Lord Ayyappa’s victory over demon Mahishi, will be celebrated at the Erumley Sree Dharma Sastha temple on January 11. The 500-member Ambalappuzha team headed by nonagenarian Chandrasekharan Nair and the 300-member Alangattu team led by 75-year-old Vijayakumar will perform Pettathullal at noon and 2 pm on January 11.
The Thiruvabharanam procession, carrying the attire in gold to be adorned on Lord Ayyappa during Makaravilakku, will be taken out from Pandalam Valiyakoickal Sree Dharma Sastha temple at noon on January 12.
Makaravilakku, the most auspicious day of the annual pilgrimage season, will be celebrated after Thiruvabharanam is adorned on Lord Ayyappa ’s idol of at 6.30 pm on January 14.
Temple to close on Jan 20
The Sabarimala temple will be closed at 7 am on January 20 after the Thiruvabharanam procession makes it way back to the Pandalam Palace from the Sannidhanam.