The annual festival at the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala began with the ceremonial Kodiyettu on Tuesday.
Hundreds of devotees thronged the temple to witness the ceremony.
The temple chief priest (Tantri) assisted by the head priest (Melsanthi) performed the rituals. They performed the Bimbasudhikriya and Kodimarapuja before hoisting the ceremonial flag on the temple mast.
The ceremonial flag was taken out in a procession with the accompaniment of a caparisoned elephant, sacred Marappani, and traditional temple percussion prior to the Kodiyettu ceremony. The Tantri hoisted the flag at 7.30 a.m.
Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) president A. Padmakumar, board members K.P. Sankaradas and N. Vijayakumar, and devaswom executive officer D. Sudheeshkumar were present.
The Utsavabali ritual will be performed on all days till March 20. The Pallivetta ceremony will be held at Saramkuthi on March 20 evening. The Pallivetta procession will set off from the Sannidhanam to Saramkuthi after the Athazhapuja and will return to the temple by mid-night.
The arat ceremony, marking the culmination of the 10-day festival, will be held at the specially prepared arat kadavu in the Pampa on March 21 forenoon. The Tantri will perform the Aratupuja and Utchapuja at the arat kadavu.
Sahasrakalasabhishekom, Kalabhabhishekom, Ashtabhishekom, Udayasthamanapuja, Pushpabhishekom, and Padipuja will be held on all days, except on March 21.
The presiding deity will be seated on a specially prepared `peedhom’ at the Nadapandal of the Pampa Ganapati Temple till 3 p.m. The deity will be taken out in a procession to the Sannidhanam later.
The Tantri will bring down the ceremonial flag as soon as the procession reaches the Sannidhanam, marking the end of the annual festival.