New Delhi, News24 Bureau, Nov 5: Chaos is set to return to the Sabarmati Temple today as the holy shrine of Lord Ayappa is set to open for 24 hours. This is going to be a big test for the state government seeing the big law and order problem the state witnessed when the shrine opened for three days after the Supreme Court's verdict wherein it had lifted the ban thereby allowing women between the age of 10-50 to enter the celibate Lord's temple.
The famous Lord Ayyappa hill shrine at Sabarimala opened today for the three-month annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season which begins tomorrow.
A large number of devotees had already reached the shrine for darshan on the day of opening of the temple.
Security in and around the temple has been tightened in view of the heavy rush expected over the coming days. More than 4.5 crore devotees offered prayers at the temple during the festival season last year.
Todays programme started with outgoing head priest (melsanthi) SE Sankaran Namboodiri, accompanied by chief priest (tantri) Kandararu Rajeevararu, opening the sanctum sanctorum of the temple in the evening.
Later, TM Unnikrishnan Namboodiri of Thekumparambathu Mana at Cherpulasserry took charge as the new Sabarimala melsanthi.
Manu Namboodiri of Puthumana Illom at Vazhappally was appointed the new melsanthi at the Malikappuram Devi temple.
The temple rituals will begin with the tantri performing the Ashtadravya Maha Ganapati homam tomorrow morning. The main Neyyabhishekom offering to the presiding deity will begin after the Ashtabhishekom at 3.30 am.
The 41-day Mandalam festival will conclude on December 26 after Mandalapooja. The temple will be closed after the Athazhapuja in the evening on that day.
The temple will reopen for the Makaravilakku festival on December 30 afternoon. The Makaravilakku will be celebrated on January 14.
The procession carrying the sacred attire, Thiruvabharanam, will set off from the Pandalam Valiyakoickal Sastha temple on January 12. The temple will be closed on January 20 morning, marking the culmination of the annual pilgrimage season.