Swami Saranam: Days of Ayyappa Chants ahead

published on November 16, 2010

Sabarimala shrine opens for annual pilgrimage
PNS | Pathanamthitta

The sanctum sanctorum of the famed Lord Ayyappa shrine among Kerala’s Sabarimala mountains opened on Tuesday evening for the annual two-month Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage. The season, during which more than three crore pilgrims are expected to have darshan at the shrine, would conclude on January 19.

The 41-day Mandalam festival poojas beginning at the dawn of Wednesday (the first day of Vrischikam month of the Malayalam calendar) would conclude with closure of the sanctum sanctorum on the eleventh day of the month of Dhanu (December 27).

The shrine will reopen after a three-day recess on the evening of December 30 for the Makaravilakku season, the highlight of which is the darshan of the Makarajothi on the first of the month of Makaram (January 14). Temple administration officials said all preparations for the pilgrim season had been completed.

On Tuesday evening, the sanctum sanctorum was opened by outgoing Melshanti (chief priest) G Vishnu Namboothiri in the presence of Kantararu Rajeevaru, the Tanthri (traditional head priest) of the Sabarimala shrine and witnessed by thousands of pilgrims. The Melshantis at the Lord Ayyappa shrine and the adjoining Malikappuram temple change every year.

The ceremonies of installation of the new Melshantis started at the Sannidhanam (the abode of Lord Ayyappa) from 7.00 pm Tuesday. After the poojas at Sannidhanam, Tanthri Kantararu Rajeevaru welcomed new chief priest Ezhikkode Sasi Namboothiri into the Sanctum sanctorum.

The new Melshanti took charge of the shrine after the ceremonial whispering of the secret Sukta of Lord Ayyappa in his ear by the Tanthri. The ceremony of installation of Dhananjayan Namboothiri as the new Melshanti of the Malikappuram temple was held after that.

Sasi Namboothiri of Ezhikkode Mana in Thrissur district and Dhananjayan Namboothiri of Kodakinal, Vallikkunnam were selected as Melshantis of the Lord Ayyappa temple and Malikappuram temple respectively on October 17 through draw of lots held in front of the sanctum sanctorum. Pilgrimage to the Lord Ayyappa shrine without worshipping at the Malikappuram temple is considered incomplete.

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