A large number of devotees Monday thronged the famed Lord Ayyappa shrine here as it opened for 10-day annual festivities and monthly poojas.
Head priest Kandararu Rajeevaru presided over the rituals after the portals of the hill shrine were opened after a gap of nearly one month.
The routine purification ritual and dedication of the new gold-plated door of the sanctum sanctorum were held soon after the shrine opened at 5 PM, temple sources said.
The old door is being replaced as it had developed cracks.
The new holy door, made of quality teak wood, has been plated with at least four kilograms of gold after engraving and embossing it with copper.
A group of Sabarimala devotees, led by one Unni Namboothiri, bore the expenses of the new door as an offering to the presiding deity, they said.
Before being closed on March 21, the temple would witness various rituals as part of the festivities, the sources added.
Compared to the heavy security blanket witnessed at the temple during the past few months in view of protests against entry of women in previously barred age group of 10-50, this time the number of police personnel deployed in and around the shrine was moderate.
The Lord Ayyappa temple had witnessed frenzied protests by devotees opposing the implementation of the landmark September 28 last year Supreme Court verdict permitting women of all age groups into the temple.
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