Sannidhanam witnesses heavy rush, police regulates pilgrim flow

The Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala was opened for the annual Makaravilakku festival on Tuesday. The Melsanthi (head priest), E.N. Krishnadas Namboodiri, accompanied by the Tantri (chief priest) Kandararu Rajeevararu, opened the sanctum sanctorum at 5.30 pm.
The pilgrim centre witnessed heavy rush on the opening day. Many pilgrims had been camping at Pampa and Nilackal for the past three days, unaware that the temple would be closed after the 41-day Mandalam season. The police permitted them to enter the trekking path only by 2 p.m. on Tuesday to avoid crowding at the hillock.
Executive Officer V.S. Sivakumar told The Hindu that the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) had sufficient stock of Aravana and Appam to meet the pilgrims’ demand. He said the Aravana buffer stock at the Devaswom godown was 12 lakh tins (250 ml each) as on Tuesday morning.
Petta Thullal at Erumeli will be on January 11. The procession carrying the sacred jewellery, Thiruvabharanam, to Sabarimala for the Makaravilakku festival will set off from the Valiyakoickal Sastha Temple at Pandalam on January 12. A group of Guruswamis, led by Kulathinal Gangadharan Pillai, will carry the Thiruvabharanam in wooden jewellery boxes on their head all the way to Sabarimala.
The Thiruvabharanam procession will reach the Sannidhanam on January 14, the Makaravilakku day. The deity at the Ayyappa temple will be adorned with the jewellery prior to the deeparadhana. The Makarasankrama puja, sighting of the celestial star ‘Makara’ (Makarajyoti) on the eastern horizon of the Sannidhanam, and the deeparadhana atop the distant hill, Ponnambalamedu, will be the main attractions on the Makaravilakku day.
The Kalabhabhishekom, pouring of specially prepared sandal paste over the Ayyappa idol, marking the culmination of the Neyyabhishekom ritual, will be held amid the Utchapuja on January 18.
The Guruti ritual to propitiate the cohorts (Bhoothagana) of Lord Ayyappa will be performed on the Malikappuram temple premises after the closure of the Ayyappa temple on January 19. The temple will be closed after a darshan exclusively for the royal representative of the Pandalam Palace on January 20.
Review meet
A high-level meeting will be held at the Chief Minister’s conference hall in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday to review the arrangements being made for the Makaravilakku festival. Ministers, TDB president, members, heads of various departments, and District Collectors will attend the meeting. -The Hindu