Sabarimala temple opens for pilgrimage season

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Pathanamthitta, Nov 15 (UNI) The Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala was opened for the 64-day ''Madalam-Makaravilakku'' pilgrimage season today.

Outgoing Melsanthi T K Krishanan Namboodiri opened the sanctum sanctorum at 1730 hrs and lit the ceremonial lamps in the presence of Thantri Kantararu Rajeevaru.

Thousands of pilgrims thronged the temple to witness ceremony.

Customary rituals will begin at the temple from 0500 hrs tomorrow with the Thantri performing ''Ashtadravya Ganapathi Homam.'' Installation of new Mesanthis of the Ayyappa temple and Malikappuram Devi temple was held at the respective shrines.

The Thantri, assisted by the outgoing Melsanthis, performed the rituals related to installation ceremony.

N Vishnu Namboodiri of Thiruvananthapuram was installed as the new Sabarimala Mesanthi.

A ''Kalasabhishekam'' was performed on him by the Thantri as part of the the initiation. Later, he was led into the sanctum sanctorum by the Thantri who uttered the sacred ''Moolamantra'' of Ayyappa into his ears.

In a similar ceremony, N Sreekumar Sharma of Chengannur was installed as the new Mesanthi of Malikappuram Devi temple. The outgoing Mesanthi closed the sanctum sanctorum after Athazha Pooja and handed over the keys to the Devaswom manager who in turn gave it to the new Melsanthi.

The new Mesanthis will assume charge tomorrow by opening the sanctum sanctorum at 0500 hrs. The ''Mandala Pooja'' will be performed on December 26.

The temple will be closed the same night and will be reopened on December 30 for ''Makaravilakku'' festival which falls on January 14.

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