Sabarimala: Kerala Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan has announced that the traditional forest path through Karimala to the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala will be reopened for pilgrims from December 31.
Of the total 35 km forest route, 18 km stretch from Azhutha to Pamba goes through the Periyar Tiger Reserve. This route has been cleaned up for enabling the movement of pilgrims.
Travel through the forest path will be allowed only during a particular time slot as a precaution against wild animals.
Only those who begin their journey from Erumeli between 5.30 and 10.30 am can reach Pamba before night.
As per the new rule, pilgrims must cross Azhutha before 12 noon. Those who reach Azhutha later will not be allowed to proceed further.
Daily, only a maximum of 10,000 pilgrims will be allowed through this route. Pilgrims will have to travel in groups so as to avoid attacks by wild animals.
Minister K Radhakrishnan announced was briefing the media about the decisions taken at a high-level meeting held at the temple complex, Sannidhanam, to review the arrangements for the Makaravilakku festival next month.
Makaravilakku, the ritualistic 'deeparadhana' (aarthi) held at Ponnambalamedu is held as part of the annual festivities. The flame is lit as a continuation of the practice followed by tribal families who live near the hilltop.
Ponnambalamedu, the hill facing the shrine, is located around 8 km away. Sighting the makaravilakku is considered auspicious.
Makaravilakku will be held on January 14.
END TO MANDALA SEASON
The temple observed Mandala Pooja on Sunday. Thousands of Ayyappa devotees had darshan at the temple on the last day of the 41-day Mandala season.
The arrangement for Mandala Pooja began after completing Neyyabhishekam at 10 am. The temple was opened at 12.40 pm after adorning the deity with "Thanka Anki".
Kandararu Mahesh Mohanar led the rituals.
After "Athazha Pooja", Melsanthi N Parameshwaran Namboodiri conducted "Bhasma Abhishekam" on Ayyappa deity. The temple was closed after adorning the deity with "Japa Maala" and "Mudra Vadi".
The temple will be reopened on December 30 at 5 pm for Makaravilakku festival.
The temple will be closed on January 20 as the Makaravilakku pilgrimage concludes.