Sabarimala: Thousands of devotees on Sunday offered worship at the famed Lord Ayyappa temple here on the auspicious occasion of 'makaravilakku', marking the culmination of the over two-month-long pilgrimage. Pilgrims from Kerala and outside the state waited for hours to have a glimpse of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity, carrying the 'irumudi kettu' (the traditional bundle a devotee brings to the shrine) over their heads.
Throughout the time, the 'sannidhanam' (temple complex) atop the hillock and base camp on the banks of river Pampa reverberated with chants of "Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa".
The portals of the shrine was thrown open after the 'deeparadhana' (arti) in the evening, which was performed to the idol of Lord Ayyappa which was donned with holy jewels called 'Thiruvabharanam'. The jewels were brought here moments before the 'arati' in a ceremonial procession, which started its journey a couple of days earlier from the Pandalam palace, where, according to legend, Lord Ayyappa was born and spent his childhood.
The 'Saranam Ayyappa' chants intensified when the 'makara jyothi', considered a divine light by devotees, flickered across the eastern horizon above the Ponnambalamedu soon after the arati. Police and other agencies had made elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the final leg of the pilgrimage and to manage the overflowing devotees, mainly from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, besides Kerala.
Policemen, disaster management personnel, doctors and paramedics were deployed at the temple town as part of the arrangements for the festival season.