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Sabarimala Temple Draws Massive Pilgrim Turnout On New Year Day

The shrine opened at 3 am with the idol of Lord Ayyappa receiving an anointment of ghee from 18,018 coconuts after the nirmalyam and abhishekam rituals.

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Devotees of Lord Ayyappa at the Sabarimala Temple to offer prayers
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The Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, which opened for the Makaravilakku festival two days ago, experienced a significant influx of pilgrims on New Year's Day, officials said here on Monday.

The shrine opened at 3 am with the idol of Lord Ayyappa receiving an anointment of ghee from 18,018 coconuts after the nirmalyam and abhishekam rituals. Led by Chief Priest P N Mahesh Namboothiri, the ghee anointing (Neyyabhishekam) was performed under the supervision of the tantri (head priest) Kandararu Mahesh Mohanararu. The ghee anointing (Neyyabhishekam) was a contribution from four devotees from Bengaluru - Vishnusaran Bhat, Unnikrishnan Potti, Ramesh Rao, and Dorai.

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According to an official release, 20,000 coconuts filled with ghee at Pamba Ganapati temple, were prepared for the Neyyabhishekam and transported to the hill shrine on a tractor. Notably, on January 1, 2021, a similar ritual was performed with 18,018 ghee-filled coconuts. 

Given the rush of pilgrims, elaborate security arrangements were made at the temple under the leadership of DIG Thomson Jose and Sannidhanam Police special officer, R  Anand. The Lord Ayyappa temple was opened for the Makaravilakku pilgrimage season on Saturday evening.  Various rituals, including 'prasada shudha kriya' and 'bimba shudha kriya', will be held on January 13 and 14 ahead of the Makaravilakku festival on January 15, said the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), the apex temple body managing the hill shrine. 

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Devotees will witness the reception of the 'thiruvabharanam' (the sacred ornaments) at the Sannidhanam (temple complex), and the 'deeparadhana', adorning Lord Ayyappa idol with jewels, on Makaravilakku day. After the Makaravilakku darshan, the hill shrine will remain open till January 20 for pilgrims to offer prayers.

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