Sabarimala (Ker), Jan 14 (PTI) Thousands of devoteesturned up for worship at the hill shrine here during the''makara samkrama puja'' this evening, marking the finale oftwo-month-long pilgrimage to the famous Lord Ayyappa temple.
As the ''makara jyoti'', held as a divine light by thedevotees, flickered across the eastern horizon above thePonnambalamedu after the puja, the holy hillock and thefoothill Pampa reverberated with chants of "Swamiye SaranamAyyappa".
The puja was conducted with the idol of the deityadorned with the holy jewels "Thiruvabharanam", brought to thesanctum sanctorum in a ceremonial procession moments beforethe ''aarti''.
The sannidhanam (temple complex) atop the hillock andthe base camp Pampa have been overflowing with devotees inlast few days making it a challenge for police to manage thecrowd.
Makara samkramam is considered as an auspicious momentwhen the sun moves from ''Dhanu rasi'' to the ''Makara rasi''.
The annual pilgrimage season, which began inmid-November, will conclude on January 19.
Thousands of pilgrims had reached and camped atop thehill in make-shift tents and shacks, with devotees from AndhraPradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka forming major chunk of them.
A huge crowd of devotees also converged at foothillson the banks of the river Pampa to witness the ''jyothi'' andprocession of holy jewels, brought from the Pandalam palacewhere Lord Ayyappa was believed to have spent his childhoodaccording to the belief.
Police and other state agencies made elaboratearrangements for the smooth conduct of the final phase of thepilgrimage.
The devotees who worshipped at the shrine on theauspicious moment included Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi andMalayalam star Jayaram.
Over 30 million devotees visited the temple during thepilgrimage season, which passed off largely incident-free. PTINM VS