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Devotees pour in as Sabarimala Ayyappa temple opens for Mandala-Makaravilakku

SABARIMALA, Nov 16: The Lord Ayyappa temple situated in Sabarimala hills in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district opened on Thursday for the annual Mandala-Makaravilakku pujas lasting nearly two months with the opening of the sanctum sanctorum by the head priest at 5 pm.

As several lakhs of devotees visit the temple during the pilgrimage season, security has been tightened deploying 13,000 policemen. Drones are being used for surveillance. To ensure seamless telecom connectivity, mobile towers have been installed by the BSNL all along the route through the hills. A public WiFi service has also been enabled. Over 200 buses will ply on the interior route. There are 15 health centres set up along the trekking route from Pampa to 'Sannidhanam' (shrine).

The first of the two phases of the pujas, called Mandala Puja Mahotsavam, will end on Decembe 27 (41-day pilgrimage) and the second phase, Makaravilakku Mahotsavam, will begin on December 30 and closes with the darshan of Makaravilakku on January 15, 2024.

The pilgrimage season begins on the first day of the Malayalam month Vrichikam on Friday.

Also See: SABARIMALA, the pilgrim centre

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