KOCHI: VK Jayaraj Potti has been selected as the head priest (Melshanthi) of the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple. He will serve as the head priest for the next pilgrim season for a period of one year. Jayaraj is from Varikkattu Madham near Poyya in Thrissur district.
Rajikumar MN, of Mylakodath Mana, Kidangoor, Angamaly in Ernakulam district is the new melshanti of Malikapuram.
The duo has been selected through a draw of lots conducted at the Sabarimala temple in the presence of Devaswom board president N Vasu. Advocate N Vijayakumar, Advocate KS Ravi, Sannidhanam special commissioner M. Manoj, Devaswom Commissioner BS Thirumeni and High Court observer Justice K Padmanabhan Nair were also present.
While talking to regional media, Jayaraj Potti said that it is a great fortune to be selected to serve as the priest of Lord Ayyappa.
Both the head priests will take charge at a special ceremony to be held at Sabarimala and Malikapuram temples when the hill shrine opens for the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season. The Ayyappa temple will be open for the famed two-month long pilgrim season on Malayalam month of Vrischikam 1, (November 16).
The Devaswom authorities have made strict arrangements for the pilgrim season this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 negative certificate is mandatory to enter the shrine.
Meanwhile, the Ayyappa temple has now been opened for devotees, after being closed for more than six months, for the monthly poojas. Devotees will be allowed till October 21. Only 250 pilgrims are allowed to visit the shrine per day in compliance with the COVID-19 protocol. Those devotees coming without a COVID-19 negative certificate have to do an antigen test at Nilackal before entering the Sannidhanam.