Sabarimala, Aug 17 : The world famous Lord Ayyappa temple here has been opened for the monthly poojas on Friday evening and the selection for a new Melsanthi (head priest) for the period of next one year was held on Saturday.
The selection of the head priests for Lord Ayyappa temple and Malikappuram Devi Temple was done through a draw of lots held in front of the sanctum sanctorum of the respective temples.
AK Sudheer Namboodiri of Areekara Mana at Thirunavaya in Malappuram district has been selected as the next Melsanthi for a period of one year with effect from November 17. M.S Parameswaran Namboodiri of Ernakulam will be the next head priest for the Malikappuram Devi Temple during the same period.
Two child nominees of Pandalam Palace --Madhav K.Varma and Kanchana K.Varma, drew the lots at Lord Ayyappa Temple and the Malikappuram Devi Temple respectively. Before the selection process, temple Tantri (Chief Priest) Kandararu Maheswararu Mohanararu performed the customary puja to the lots kept in two silver urns.
The entire selection process was monitored by M Manoj, a Special Commissioner appointed by the Kerala High Court.
However, the ceremonial installation of both the head priests will be held on November 16 evening, the day before the beginning of the next annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival.
Before their installation, both the head priests will be given a training on special rituals of the temple by the Tantri and the outgoing head priest, V.N.Vasudevan Namboodiri.
Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) president A.Padmakumar, Board members-- K.P.Sankaradas and N.Vijayakumar were also present on the occasion. The Lord Ayyappa temple was opened last evening for the poojas of Malayalam month 'Chingam.' However, no ritual was performed at the 'Sreekovil' in accordance with ongoing practice of the temple. (UNI)