41-day Sabarimala pilgrim season to begin on Sunday
With the Ayyappa temple set to open for the two-month annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season on Saturday evening, Sabarimala is bustling with activity.
The outgoing Melsanthi, V.N. Vasudevan Namboodiri, will open the sanctum sanctorum at 5 p.m. for the 41-day pilgrim season that begins on Sunday, the first day of the Malayalam month of Vrishchikom.
The ceremonial installation (abhishekom) of A.K. Sudheer Namboodiri as the new head priest (Melsanthi) of the Ayyappa temple will be held at the temple sopanam on Saturday evening. Installation of M.S. Parameswaran Namboodiri as the new Melsanthi of the Malikappuram Devi temple will be held at Malikappuram later.
Tantri (chief priest) Kandararu Maheswararu Mohanararu will perform the installation rites.
The temple rituals will begin with the Tantri performing the Ashtadravya Maha Ganapati homom on Sunday morning.
16 hours a day
The Ayyappa temple will be kept open for 16 hours a day — from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. — during the Mandalam season, according to Travancore Devaswom Board president N. Vasu.
Mandalapuja marking culmination of the 41-day Mandalam pilgrimage will be held on December 27 and the temple will be closed in the evening.
The temple will be opened again on December 30 afternoon for the Makaravilaku festival. The Petta thullal at Erumeli will be held on January 12 and the
ceremonial procession carrying the sacred attire, ‘Thiruvabharanam’, will set off to Sabarimala from Pandalam on January 13.
Makarvilakku will be celebrated on January 15.
The Ayyappa temple will be closed after facilitating the customary darshan exclusively for the royal representative from the Pandalam Palace on January 21 morning.