SABARIMALA — The Sabarimala temple opened Friday evening for the two-month long pilgrim season amid tight security in the backdrop of the standoff over the entry of women in menstrual age.
As the shrine opened at 5 pm in the presence of head priest Kandararu Rajeevaru, the large number of devotees present there chanted "Swamiyae Ayyappa".
Two new melsanthis (priests) ML Vasudevan Namboodiri (Ayyappa temple) and MN Narayanan Namboodiri (Malikapapuram) assumed charge.
The 41-day mandalam festival will conclude on 27 December after Mandala pooja, when the shrine will close after the 'Athazhapuja' in the evening. It would reopen for the Makaravilakku festival on 30 December.
The Makaravilakku festival would be celebrated on 14 January after which the shrine will close on 20 January, marking the culmination of the pilgrim season, when lakhs of devotees are expected to throng the shrine.
Unprecedented security arrangements have been made at the shrine which is opening for the third time since the Supreme Court allowed women of all age groups to offer prayers, a move being opposed by devotees and others.