Sabarimala | Photo: PTI
Pathanamthitta: Hundreds of people witnessed the auspicious 'Thiruvabharana ghoshayathra', the procession carrying sacred jewellery to Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, as it set off from a shrine in Pandalam here on Thursday.
The jewels, to be adorned on Lord Ayyappa on the day of auspicious 'Makaravilakku' festival on January 14, were taken to the hill temple accompanied by a large number of devotees.
Keeping with decades-old tradition, the 'thiruvabharanam' was shifted from the strong room of Srambickal Palace in Pandalam to the adjoining Valiyakoickal Sastha temple, early in the morning for the devotees to have darshan.
Representatives of Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), the apex temple body, received the jewels from the palace authorities and took it to the Sastha temple, where large number of devotees thronged to have a glimpse of it and offer prayers.
After the customary rituals and poojas amid "Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa" chants, the sacred jewels were kept in wooden boxes and then taken to Sabarimala by a dedicated group of people.
Headed by Kulathinal Gangadharan Pillai, who has been conducting this ritual for over six decades, the group would walk by foot for three days carrying the boxes on their heads to reach Sabarimala.
Though a representative of the Pandalam royal family used to escort the procession with a ceremonial sword, no one could take part this time due to a death in the family.
After halting at several temples on the route and accepting the reception of devotees, the procession would reach Sannidhanam (Sabarimala temple complex) on January 14 evening.
Tantri Kandararu Rajeevararu, assisted by Melsanthi would adorn the deity with the jewellery prior to the deeparadhana on the day.
The state government deployed heavy security for the procession, which carries the sacred jewels of Lord Ayyappa.
Apart from the dedicated team, hundreds of devotees with 'irumudikettu' (holy bag consisting offerings to the deity) are also part of the procession.