The gates of the Lord Ayappa temple at Sabrimala in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district were on Wednesday thrown open to devotees for the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku festivals, marking the start of the two-month long annual pilgrimage season.
The chief priest (Melsanthi) opened the sanctum sanctorum of the temple priest in front of the temple thantri, and lit the lamp in the hill sanctum today.
The 41-day Mandala season begins today with the beginning of the Malayalam calendar month Vrishchikam and ends on December 27. Direct booking facility has been established for devotees who could not book their darshan slots through online mode.
K Jayaraman Namboothiri took over as the chief priest of Sabarimala, while Hariharan Namboothiri took over as the chief priest of the Malikappuram temple.
Over the past two years, the COVID protocols have been reduced to ensure pandemic protocols are followed, but restrictions have been removed. According to K Rajan, Revenue Minister, the authorities expect at least 40 lakh devotees to visit the shrine this year. Nearly 50,000 devotees are now expected according to virtual queue records.
Last year, entry was allowed only through online registration following COVID-19 protocols.
Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), the apex temple body manages the functioning of the hill shrine.
The temple will be opened on December 30 for the Makaravilakku pilgrimage on January 14, 2023. The shrine will then close on January 20, ending the pilgrimage season.
The Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is the most famous and prominent of all the Sastha temples in Kerala. The temple is situated on a hill (about 3000 feet above sea level) and is open to people of all religions.
The temple is not open throughout the year but is opened for worship on Mandalapooja, Makaravilakku, Vishu days and also on the first day of every Malayalam month. Pilgrims must observe celibacy for 41 days before proceeding to Sabarimala. . Pilgrims take traditional forest routes, including the one from Pamba, which is difficult to reach the Temple.
(Only the headline and photo for this report have been updated by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)