All arrangements are in place for the two-month long Sabarimala pilgrimage in Kerala that gets underway on Friday.
The sanctum sanctorum of the famed Sabarimala temple opens its door first for the temple priests at 5 p.m on Thursday, which signals the commencement of welcoming devotees from the wee hours of Friday morning, which coincides with the first day of the Malayalam month of ‘Vrischikam’.
The first phase of the present season ends on December 27 and reopens on December 30 for the second phase.
On the peak day January 15 – ‘Makara Vilaku’ – a celestial light appears on the horizon thrice soon after sunset turning the pilgrims delirious and the hilltop, where the famed temple is located, reverberates with chants of ‘Swamiya Ayyapa’.
Situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea level, Sabarimala temple is four kilometres uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district, which is around 100 kms from the capital city.
The temple, which bars the entry of girls who have attained puberty, is accessible only on foot from the Pamba river.
As per practice, before setting off to the holy shrine a pilgrim normally undertakes an intense 41-day penance where he does not wear footwear, wears a black dhoti and sticks to strict vegetarian food.
Every pilgrim carries a kit (‘lrumudi’-which contains coconuts which are broken just before climbing the 18 steps) on his head during the pilgrimage and without it, none is allowed to step onto the holy 18 steps at the ‘Sannidhanam’.