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Kaleekkal Madom N Parameswaran Namboothiri is new head priest of Sabarimala temple

SABARIMALA, Oct 17: N Parameswaran Namboothiri, 49, of Kaleekkal Madom in Mavelikkara was on Sunday chosen as the new melsanthi (head priest) of the Lord Ayyappa temple and Shambu Namboothiri of Kuruvakkad Illam in Kozhikode as the Malikappuram Devi temple head priest at Sabarimala in Kerala.

The choice was through draw of lots. The nine names shortlisted after interviews of aspiring candidates conducted by the Travancore Devswom Board, administrator of temples, were placed in a silver pot and Govind Varma, the youngest member of the Pandalam royal family, picked the lot to select the Sabarimala temple head priest, followed by a similar draw for the Malikappuram temple, also situated in the premises.

Parameswaran Nampoothiri is currently the melsanthi of Sree Krishnaswami temple, Evoor, in the Alappuzha district. He had also served as the melsanthi of Pampa Maha Ganapathi temple, Chettikulangara temple and Sree Krishna Swami temple, Haripad. Shambu Namboothiri is working as the chief priest at Kannancherry Maha Ganapati temple.

Travancore Devaswom Board president N Vasu and High Court observer retired Justice N Bhaskaran supervised the draw of lots.

The tenure of the head priest is one year starting from November 16 when the annual Mandala puja pilgrim season begins. For the pilgrimage, devotees have to book tickets online as per the new rules to ensure security as also they are mandated to carry a full covid vaccination certificate or a negative RT-PCR test report.

The temple had opened for the monthly (new Malayalam month of Thulam) rituals on Saturday at 5 pm. The door to the sanctum sanctorum was opened by the current head priest VK Jayaraj Potti in the presence of Tantri Kandaru Maheshwaru Mohanaru. However, rituals were scheduled to start only after the naming of the new priest on Sunday morning as per custom.

As it has been raining for the past few days and there were cloud bursts leading to flash floods and landslides killing over a dozen people, the Devaswom Board decided not to allow devotees take the risk of trekking during the current adverse weather conditions for the monthly darshan at the temple.

The temple will be closed on October 21 after the monthly prayers, the Travancore Devaswom Board said in a press release. Thereafter, it will open on November 16 for the annual pilgrimage.

The Sabarimala Ayyappa temple is a major pilgrim centre of the Hindus of south India situated in Kerala's high ranges, drawing millions of devotees during the annual pilgrimage season, November till January.


The Sabarimala temple - The legend & rituals

The Story of Lord Ayyappa

SABARIMALA, the pilgrim centre

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