Thousands offer prayers at  Sabarimala temple on Chingam 1

Sabarimala : The famous Lord Ayyappa Temple here witnessed heavy rush of devotees on Wednesday as it was opened for special pujas and rituals to mark the beginning of the auspicious Malayalam month of Chingam.

The officials of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), the apex temple body which manages the temple, here said thousands of people thronged the hill shrine since early morning to have a glimpse of the deity on the auspicious day.

The 'sannidhanam', the temple premises, reverberated with the holy Ayyappa chants as soon as Melsanthi (chief priest) N Parameshwaran Namboothiri opened the portals of the sanctum sanctorum and lit the lamp under the guidance of tantri (head priest) Kandari Rajeevaru, they said.

Besides the customary pujas, "Laksharchana", a special ritual, was also held at the shrine.

TDB president K Ananthagopan, Sabarimala special commissioner Manoj and other board members were among those who offered prayers at the shrine during the early hours.

According to temple sources, the devotees were allowed to trek the holy hills and climb the 18 sacred steps to offer prayers before the main deity-Lord Ayyappa since last evening.

The shrine would remain open for five days till August 21.

Rituals like "udayasthamaya puja", "ashtabhishekam", "kalabhabhishekam", "padipuja" and so on would be held all these days.

Devotees can visit the shrine after registering in the virtual queue system, they said.

A spot registration system is also in place at Nilakkal, the base camp, for the pilgrims.

The Ayyappa temple would be opened for Onam rituals on September 6 and would be closed on September 10, the TDB sources added. PTI

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