A large number of devotees thronged the famed Sabarimala temple here on Tuesday seeking the blessings of Lord Ayyappa as auspicious Mandala puja held at the hillock shrine in the afternoon, marking the culmination of the 41-day-long first leg of the annual pilgrimage season.
The puja was performed under the aegis of ‘tantri’ (head priest) Kandararu Rajeevaru after adorning the idol of the principal deity with ‘thanka anki’, the sacred golden attire brought at the Sannidhanam (temple complex) on Monday evening.
Special rituals including ‘kalabhabhishekam’ and ‘kalasabhishekam’ were held as devotees waited in long queues chanting ‘swamiye saranam Ayyappa” to have a glimpse of Lord Ayyappa on the auspicious occasion.
Prominent officials of Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) were also present before the sanctum sanctorum when the ceremonies were held.
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The temple was closed soon after the Mandala puja and would be opened in the evening for devotees to offer prayers before closing in the night.
The shrine would be closed for three days and reopen on December 30 at 5 PM for the Makaravilakku ceremonies, the second leg of the pilgrimage season.
The Makaravilakku ritual would be held on January 14, 2023. Thereafter, the shrine would be closed on January 20 marking the end of the annual pilgrimage season.
Earlier in the day, Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan said despite the huge turn out of devotees, the Mandala puja period went off well without much complaint.
Over 30 lakh devotees have reached the hillock shrine during the 41-day-long season but things went well through the coordinated efforts of various government departments, he told reporters after attending a review meeting at the guest house here.
The TDB, the apex temple body which manages the shrine, said Rs 222.98 crore revenue was generated by the shrine in the last 39 days of the two-month long annual pilgrimage season.