Thiruvananthapuram: Thousands thronged the temple town of Pandalam in Pathanamthitta district Saturday to witness the 'Thiruvabharanam' (sacred jewellery) procession from the Pandalam Valiyakoickal Sastha temple to Sabarimala for the annual 'Makaravilakku' festival.
The Thiruvabharanam was shifted from the strong room of Srambickal Palace in Pandalam to the adjoining Valiyakoickal temple, early in the morning for the devotees to have darshan.
Later the sacred jewels were kept in three wooden boxes to be taken to Sabarimala by a 22-member team headed by Kulathinal Gangadharan Pillai.
The temple head priest performed special rituals at the Sastha temple amid chanting of 'Swami Saranam'.
The eldest male member of the Pandalam royal family handed over the ceremonial sword to the royal representative escorting the sacred jewellery.
The palace representative was taken in a palanquin to the nearby Kaippuzha palace ahead of the start of the procession, which would halt at Ayroor Puthiyakavu Devi temple tonight and at Laha on the second night.
It would reach Saramkuthi at 5 pm on January 14 and the Sannidhanam at 6 pm.
Tantri Kandararu Rajeevararu, assisted by Melsanthi would adorn the deity with the jewellery prior to the deeparadhana on January 14.
The state government has deployed heavy security for the procession, which carries the sacred jewels of Lord Ayyappa.
Apart from the 22-member team, hundreds of devotees with 'irumudikettu' (holy bag consisting offerings to the deity) are also part of the procession.
Armed guards headed by Assistant Commandant of the armed reserved camp and bomb detection and disposal squad are also part of the entourage.