Chennai: Thousands of devotees on Thursday flocked various temples across Tamil Nadu to receive a ritualistic initiation from gurus to embark on a pilgrimage to the Sabarimala hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa Swamy in Kerala.
People thronged temples here including the popular Mahalingapuram Swami Ayyappa temple and the Raja Annamalaipuram shrine to adorn the 'Maalai,' provided by gurus following prayers, which signified the beginning of the pilgrimage and all its associated rituals and practices.
In this context, 'Maalai' in Tamil means a string of small round pieces of wood-like material, similar to a rosary bead and worn by devotees marking the start of their pilgrimage. People remove it after completing the spiritual trip.
People thronged temples in keeping with the tradition to begin the pilgrimage prayers and initiation on the first day of Tamil month 'Karthigai' (November-December). Devotees visited temples including the Courtallam Kutralanathaswamy temple to get initiated on the pilgrimage.
The Tamil Nadu government said on Wednesday that special buses would be operated to Kerala in view of the annual Mandala and Makaravilakku poojas in the Lord Ayyappa Swamy temple. The Mandala pooja is from November 16 to December 27. The Makaravilakku pooja is from December 30 to January 19, 2023. PTI