The Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala was opened on Saturday for the annual Chithira Aattathirunal festival to be celebrated on Sunday.
The head priest (melsanthi) opened the sanctum sanctorum in the presence of the chief priest (tantri) at 5 p.m. and it was kept open till 10 p.m. facilitating holy darshan.
The rituals at the temple will begin with the Tantri performing Ashtadravya Maha Ganapathi homom followed by Ashtabhishekom, Neyyabhishekom, and Ushapuja on Sunday morning.
The ghee brought from the Kowdiar Palace in Thiruvananthapuram will be offered to the presiding deity for the Neyyabhishekom ritual. The kalabhapuja will be performed at the Namaskara Mandapam in the forenoon.
The specially-prepared sandal paste (kalabahom) will be taken out in a procession to the sanctum sanctorum prior to the Utchapuja for pouring it over the Ayyappa idol as part of the Kalabhabhishekom.
The sandal paste offered to the deity will be distributed as prasadom to the devotees, later.
Udayasthamanapuja, Ashtabhishekom, Pushpabishekom, and Padipuja will be the other important rituals to be performed at the temple on Sunday.
A large number of devotees are camping at the holy hillock to witness the rituals. The temple will be closed after the Athazhapuja on Sunday evening.