Sabarimala (Ker): Thousands of devotees from different parts of the country offered worship at the hill shrine of Sabarimala on the auspicious occasion of the 'Makarajyothi' this evening, marking the finale of the two-month-long pilgrimage to the Lord Ayyappa temple.
The holy hillock and the base camp on the banks of the river Pampa reverberated with chants of "Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa" as the portals of the shrine opened after 'deeparadhana' (arti), performed with the idol of the presiding deity being donned with glittering holy jewels, 'Thiruvabharanam'.
The jewels had been brought to the sanctum sanctorum in a ceremonial procession moments before the 'aarti'.
The procession carrying the jewels in wooden caskets had set out a couple of days earlier from the Pandalam palace where, according to legend, Lord Ayyappa was born and spent his childhood.
The sannidhanam (temple complex) atop the hillock and the base camp Pampa had been overflowing with devotees in the last few days making it a challenging task for police to manage the crowd.
Thousands of pilgrims had reached and camped atop the hill in make-shift tents and shacks, with devotees from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka forming a major chunk.
Police, armed commandos, RAF, disaster management contingent and other state agencies including doctors and paramedics had made elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the final phase of the pilgrimage.