Days of Ayyappa Chantings ahead

published on November 16, 2008



Mandalam pilgrimage starts at Sabarimala

Pioneer News Service | Pathanamthitta

Thousands of devotees had Nirmalya Darsanam at 4.00 am on Sunday at the Lord Ayyappa Shrine of Sabarimala, the second biggest Hindu pilgrimage centre in South India, marking the commencement of the 41-day Mandalam pilgrimage season on the first day of month Vrischikam of the Malayalam calendar.

Officials of the Travancore Devaswom Board, in charge of the administration of the major Hindu temples in South Kerala including those at Sabarimala, said the rush was of devotees was astonishing when compared to the opening day in the previous years.

They said majority of the devotees were from outside Kerala. The sanctum sanctorum was opened on the dawn of Vrischikam by the newly appointed Melsanthi (chief priest), N Vishnu Namoothiri of Maruthamkuzhi Thekkedath, Thiruvananthapuram.

Anointment of the deity in ghee was performed after the mandatory Ganapathi Homam, performed to cast away all obstacles.

Special Poojas were also started at the sanctum sanctorum on the dawn of Vrischikam at the Lord Ayyappa shrine and the adjacent Malikappuram temple, where new Melsanthi Sreekumara Varma of Thamaramangalam, Idanadu, Chengannur, started the rites.

The sanctum sanctorum of the Lord Ayyappa shrine was opened for the season at 5.30 pm on Saturday with the installation of the new Melsanthis (chief priests) at the Lord Ayyappa temple and the shrine of Malikappurathamma.

Outgoing Melsanthi TK Krishnan Namboothiri lighted the holy lamp inside the sanctum sanctorum on Saturday after opening it in the presence of Tanthri (traditional temple priest) Kantararu Rajeevaru.

After this, the Tanthri woke Lord Ayyappa from his Yogic sleep to inform him about the presence of devotees.

After this the Melsanthi’s descended the holy 18 steps leading to the abode of Lord Ayyappa to light the Aazhi, the fire heap. The pilgrimage to the shrine symbolically started after that with the new Melasanthi and his associates climbing the holy 18 steps to the deity’s abode. There were no special Poojas on Saturday, the last day of the month of Tulam of the Malayalam calendar.

The rituals for the installation of the new Melsanthi, N Vishnu Nambooothiri, Thekkedath Manakkal, Maruthankuzhi, Thiruvananthapuram started at about 7.00 pm on Saturday at Sannidhanam, the abode of Lord Ayyappa. Temple Tanthri Kantararu Rajeevaru led the rituals.

The installation ritual was completed with the transfer of the Moola Manthram (the most important Mantra for Lord Ayyappa) by muttering it in the ears of the Melsanthi by the Tanthri after escorting him to the sanctum sanctorum. The rituals on Saturday ended with the outgoing Melsanthi closing the doors of the sanctum sanctorum and handing over the keys to his successor.

The Mandala Pooja, ultimate ritual of the season, will be performed at noon on the eleventh day of the month Dhanu of the Malayalam calendar (December 26) marking the conclusion of the 41-day Mandalam pilgrimage season. The sanctum sanctorum will be closed for a brief interval of four days on the night of December 26.

The shrine would open again for the Makaravilakku season on December 30. This is the season when maximum rush of pilgrims is felt at Sabramala. The Makra Jyoti Darasanam will be on the evening of January 14, coinciding with the Makara Samkrama Pooja, when the crowd of devotees reaches at its maximum density. The sanctum sanctorum will close for the season on December 20.

The first day of the pilgrimage season passed off without any problems at the hill shrine and all procedures taking place as per the system. Officials said there were no problems in the distribution of Appam and Aravana, the chief prasadams of the Sabarimala temple.

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