The Ayyappa temple has opened up for the two-month long annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage. The outgoing Melsanthi T M Unnikrishnan Namboodiri opened the sanctum sanctorum for the 41-day Mandalam pilgrim season that began on the first day in the Malayalam month of Vrischikom. The ceremonial installation (Abhishekom) of A V Unnikrishnan Namboodiri of Mangalathu Azhakathu Mana at Kodakara near Chalakkudy as the new head priest (Melsanthi) at the Ayyappa Temple was held at the Ayyappa Temple sopanam. The installation of the 38-year old Aneesh Namboodiri of Varickom Illom at Mainagappally in Kollam as the new Melsanthi of the Malikappuram Devi Temple was also held at Malikappuram later.
The Mandalapuja, marking the culmination of the 41-day Mandalam pilgrimage will be held along with the Utchapuja on December 26. The Ayyappa Temple will be closed after the Athazhapuja, later in the evening. The Ayyappa Temple will be opened on December 30 afternoon for the Makaravilakku festival. This year’s annual Makarvilakku festival to be celebrated on the Makara-Samkranthi day falls on January 14.