Sabarimala, Jan 14 (Agencies): In an atmosphere charged with devotion, thousands offered worship at the hillshrine Sabarimala during the 'makara samkrama pooja' this evening, marking the finale of two-month-long pilgrimage to the Lord Ayyappa temple.

 

As the 'Makara jyoti', held as a divine light by the devotees, flickered across the eastern horizon above the Ponnambalamedu after the pooja, the holly hillock and the

foothill Pampa reverberated with the chant "Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa."

 

The pooja was conducted with the idol of the deity adorned with the holy jewels "thiruvabharanam", brought to the sanctum sanctorum in a ceremonial procession moments before the 'arti'.

 

The sannidhanam (temple complex) atop the hillock and the base camp Pampa have been overflowing with devotees in the last few days making it a challenge for police to manage the crowd.

 

Makarasamkramam is considered as an auspicious moment when the Sun moves from "Dhanu rasi" to the "Makaram rasi".

 

The pilgrimage season, whih began in mid-November, will conclude on January 19 with the after guruthi ritual.

 

Thousands of pilgrims had reached and camped atop the hill in make-shift tents and shacks, with devotees from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka forming major chunk of them.

 

A huge crowd of devotees also converged at foothills on the banks of the river Pampa to witness the 'jyothi' and procession of holy jewels, brought from the Pandalam palace

where the Lord was believed to have spent his childhood according the belief.

 

Police and other state agencies made elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the final phase of the pilgrimage.

 

Additional Chief Secretary K Jayakumar, ADGP (Intelligence) A Hemachandran, Trvanancore Deveswom Board president Rajagopalan Nair were present on the occasion.

 

The devotees who worshipped at the shrine on the auspicious moment included Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi and Malayalam star Jayaram. Over 30 million devotees visited the temple during the pilgrimage season, which passed of largely incident-free.