Mandala puja held at Sabarimala Ayyappa temple
Sabarimala: Thousands of devotees thronged the Lord Ayyappa temple here on Friday for the
mandala puja which marked the culmination of the 41-day annual pilgrim season that was peaceful unlike protests over women's entry last year.
Chanting "swamiye saranam" Ayyappa devotees thronged the hill-top temple and waited patiently to witness the special pujas and rituals including "kalabha abhishekam" and "kalasa abhishekam".
The 'mandala puja' was held under the aegis of the head priest Kandaru Mahesh Mohanararu and Melshanti (Chief Priest) A Sudheer Namboothiri as pilgrims chanted hymns of the Lord in unison.
The idol of the Lord Ayyappa was adorned with 'thanka angi," the sacred golden attire, which was brought here on Thursday evening in a ceremonial procession from the Sree Parthasarthy temple at Aranmula.
Last year, the shrine had witnessed frenzied protests by devotees over the entry of young women after the LDF government decided to implement the September 28 verdict of the Supreme Court allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers.
However, with petitions against the September 28 verdict being referred to a larger bench by the apex court, the state government decided to exercise caution and held that women in the 10-50 age group who wish to visit the hill temple should get a "court order" and it would not encourage activism.
The shrine would close at 10 pm on Friday, marking the conclusion of the initial phase of the two-month-long annual pilgrim season, which began on November 15 and would re-open on December 30 for the 'Makaravillaku' festival on January 15.