New 'Melsanthi' assumes charge at Sabarimala

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Pathanamthitta, Nov 16 (UNI) N Vishnu Namboodiri assumed charge as the new 'Melsanthi' of the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple on the first day of the Malyalam month Vrischikam today.

He opened the sanctum sanctorum at 0400 hrs in the presence of Thantri Kantararu Rajeevaru. The first ''Neyyabhishekam'' of the pilgrimage season began at 0430 hrs.

There was unprecedented rush of pilgrims eager to witness the commencement of rituals relating to 'Mandalam' pilgrimage season.

When the temple was opened, long queues of pilgrims awaiting ''darshan'' extended up to Marakkoottam, two-and-a-half kilometres away from ''Sannidhanam.'' Unlike last year, distribution of ''Aravana'' prasadam went on smoothly as there was sufficient stock.

Meanwhile, Sabarimala high-power committee chairman K Jayakumar said during the pilgrimage season, security, health care and sanitation would receive top priority.

Talking to mediapersons at Sannidhanam, he said 120 members of the Rapid Action Force and Disaster Management Force took charge at ''Sannidhanam''.

Additional Directors-General of Police V R Rajeevan and Arun Kumar Sinha would coordinate the security arrangements at both Pampa and Sannidhanam.

Anti-venom had been stocked at all government dispensaries at ''Sannidhanam'' and Pampa for treatement of snakebite, Mr Jayakumar said.

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