Sabarimala, Nov 16 : The world famous Lord Ayyappa temple here, where entry for women between the ages of 10 and 50 is restricted as part of centuries-old custom, has been opened on Saturday evening for a two-month long Mandalam-Makaravilakku annual festival beginning on November 17, the first day of Malayalam month 'Vrichikam.
The Sreekovil (sanctum sanctorum) of the hill shrine was opened by the outgoing Melsanthi (head priest) Vasudevan Nampoothiri in the presence of Thantri Mahesh Mohanaru (chief priest) at 5pm. However, no ritual was performed at the Sreekovil this evening as part of the ongoing practice.
Later, the installation of A K Sudhir Nampoothiri as the new Melsanthi of the temple was performed. Thantri Mahesh Mohanaru performed the installation ceremony by conducting ‘Kalasabhishekam’ on the new Melsanthi in front of the Sreekovil at 6pm. Later the Thantri whispered the ‘Moolamantram’ of Lord Ayyappa in the ear of the new Melsanthi.
The new Melsanthi will take charge on November 17 for a one-year term on the first day of the Malayalam month of 'Vrichikam.' New melsanthi of Malikappuram Devi temple Parameswaran Nampoothiri also will take charge on Sunday evening. The installation ceremony of the new Melsanthi was held by the Thantri at Malikappuram temple at 8pm. (UNI)