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The 10-day annual festival at the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala will be held from March 14 to 23.Chief priest (Tantri) Kandararu Maheswararu Mohanararu said the temple would be opened on March 13 afternoon for the festival and monthly rituals in the Malayalam month of Meenam that begins the next day.Head priest (Melsanthi) S.E. Sankaran Namboodiri will open the sanctum sanctorum at 5 p.m. on March 13. Later, the Tantri, assisted by the Melsanthi, will perform Prasada Shudhi, Asthrakalasapuja, Vaasthuhomam, Vaasthubali, and Vaasthupunyaham, preparatory to the flag-hoisting ceremony on the same day.
The rituals will commence with Ashtadravya Ganapathihomam on March 14 morning.The Tantri will also perform Sudhi Kriya (purification ritual). Besides, he will perform puja before the gold-plated temple mast and the ceremonial flag.Later, the flag will be taken out in a customary procession to the accompaniment of a caparisoned elephant, traditional temple percussion, and the sacred Marappani. 23.