Investiture of Melsaanthi, the Chief Priest (38)

06/01/2012 History of Lord Ayyappa

Authored by Sri. Srikanth and C.V. Manoj

During the pilgrimage season when the entire atmosphere becomes vibrant with the reverberations of the Sharana-manthra of Lord Ayyappa, some important ceremonies take place in the temple. A major function just before the pilgrimage season starts, is the investiture of the Melsaanthi, the chief priest. This ceremony is conducted on the eve of the 1st of the Malayalam month Vrischikam (October-November). After the regular evening Pooja-s, the ceremony begins about 8.30 p.m with the pouring of sanctified water by the Thanthri of Sabarimala temple over the head of the one who is to take charge as the main priest. The Thanthri ushers the would-be priest to the sanctum sanctorum and initiates him with the Moola-manthra, the prime invocatory Manthra of Lord Ayyappa for ritualistic worship. After the ceremony and recital of Harivaraasanam (a vibrantly devotional hymn recited everyday before closing the temple) the out-going Melsaanthi closes and locks the sanctum sanctorum and hands over the key to the Manager of the Travancore Devaswom Board. The Devaswom Manager then hands over the key to the new Melsaanthi. Every year a new Melsaanthi is this appointed, following a system of selection.

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