The 'sannidhanam', the temple complex, reverberated with Lord Ayyappa hymns as the portals of the sanctum sanctorum was thrown open for the 'deeparadhana' in the evening, which was performed to the idol of the deity, adorned with holy jewels 'thiruvabharanam'. The jewels were brought here moments before the 'aarthi' in a ceremonial procession, which started its journey on January 12 from the Pandalam palace, where, according to legend, Lord Ayyappa had spent his childhood.
The devotees burst into chants of 'swamiye saranam Ayyappa' as the 'makaravilakku', the bright flame, was sighted atop Ponnambalamedu hill, located around 8 km from the shrine, as part of the ritualistic 'deeparadhana' held by tribals. The lighting of the flame by the Kerala government, with the support of the Travancore Devaswom Board and the forest department, at Ponnamabalamedu, is a continuation of the practice followed by tribal families who live near the hilltop. Devotees occupied different points in and around Sabarimala hours before the ceremony began to have a glance of the 'makaravilakku'. Unlike previous days, thousands of pilgrims trekked the holy hills on Monday to take part in the makaravilakku festivities, which marked the culmination of the over two month long Sabarimala pilgrimage.
Police and other agencies had made elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the final leg of the pilgrimage and to manage the overflowing number of devotees, mainly from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, besides Kerala.