Pathanamthitta (Kerala): Preparations are on for the ceremonial installation of a new temple mast at the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB).
The 12-metre-long, finely chiselled, teakwood mast was specially prepared by immersing it in medicated oil for one year.
The wood was taken to the holy hillock by hundreds of Ayyappa devotees on their shoulders from Pampa on May 22. The teakwood was fixed to the foundation set up at the temple on May 25.
A team of master craftsmen from Parumala have made the cylindrical copper coverings (chembu-para) to be kept around the teakwood. All the cylindrical pieces and the small idols to be kept on the Temple mast have been covered with gold plates.
Ananthan Achary, Palani Achary and Anu Ananthan, the craftsmen from Parumala, led the gold-covering work onthe specially cast copper drums and idols.
The work involves meticulous sticking of gold foils with mercury around the drum. The TDB sources told a section of the Press that a total of 130 kg of gold had been used.
TDB Administrative Officer Yatheendranath told that the Ayyappa Temple would be opened on June 14 afternoon for the monthly rituals in the Malayalam month of Midhunom that begins the next day.
The monthly rituals will begin with the Tantri Kandararu Rajeevararu performing the Ashtadravya Maha Ganapati Homa on June 15 morning.
Ashtabhishekom, Sahasrakalasabhishekom, Kalabhabhishekom, Pushpabhishekom and Padipuja will be the special rituals to be performed at the Temple on all days from June 15 to 19.
Yatheendranath said that the Temple would remain open even after the culmination of the five-day monthly rituals for the Shuddhikriya to be performed in preparation for the installation of the new Temple mast.
The ceremonial installation of the new temple mast will be held on June 25. The Tantri, assisted by the Melsathi, T.M. Unnikrishnan Namboodiri, will perform the tantric rites.
Yatheendran said that the Kodiyettu ceremony, marking the start of the 10-day temple ritual, will be held on June 28.
The Tantri, assisted by the Melsanthi, will hoist the ceremonial flag on the Temple mast.
The ritualistic Pallivetta will be held on July 6 and the festival will come to a close with the Arattu ceremony on July 7.