Thousands of Ayyappa devotees worshipped the Makarajyothi, a celestial light that appeared at Ponnambalamedau, a hill facing the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple, on Thursday.
Chants hailing the presiding deity of the temple rent the air as the light became first visible by 6.42 p.m. It hit a feverish pitch as the bells’ chime from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple merged with them.
The citing of the holy light was preceded by the performance of Deeparadhana ritual at the temple.
As against the previous years, the Makaravilakku festival was held amidst strict restrictions in view of COVID-19 outbreak. As part of it, the authorities had permitted entry to 5,000 devotees to the temple during the day.
Besides those at Sannidhanam, people also took positions at the various vantage points around the Sabarimala hills to witness the celestial light. The police had initiated elaborate security arrangements at all these locations.
Earlier in the evening, the procession carrying the Thiruvabharanam or sacred jewels reached the temple and received by a team led by the Devaswom Minister Kadakampilly Surendran and Thantri Kandararu Rajeevaru. The presiding deity at the temple was adorned with these jewellery prior to the deeparadhana ritual.
Meanwhile, the devaswom minister presented the `harivarasanam’ award to singer Veeramani Raju. The award carried a purse of ₹1 lakh, besides a citation and a plaque.
On the occasion, the minister also launched the renovated Annadanamandapam (mess hall) near the Malikappuram temple . Constructed at a cost of ₹21. 55 crore, it has the capacity to accommodate 5,000 persons at a given point of time.
The annual pilgrimage season at the temple will draw to a close on January 20 morning, a day after performance of the Guruthi ritual at Malikappuram.