Sabarimala temple opens for 'Makaravilakku' festival

Amid heavy security, the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala, opened on Sunday evening for the 21-day 'Makaravilakku' festival.

The temple, which had witnessed frenzied protests from devotees over the entry of women of menstruating age, had closed on December 27, marking the culmination of the 41-day annual 'Mandala puja' festivities.

There was a heavy rush of Ayyappa devotees when the shrine opened at 5 pm.

Chief Priest V.N Vasudevan Namboothiri opened the temple doors and performed the rituals inside the sanctum sanctorum as well as on the holy 18 steps after which the pilgrims were allowed to have 'darshan'.

Head priest Kandaru Rajeevaru was also present.

The 'Makaravilakku' will be held on Januaury 14 and the shrine will be closed at 7 am on January 20.