Thiruvananthapuram: On Monday, the Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the temple shrine at Sabarimala in Kerala, said it was all set for the annual Makaravilakku festival.

TDB president A Padmakumar met the media on Sunday after the evaluation meeting of the Board and said all arrangements for the festival have been completed at Sabarimala shrine.

"Thiruvabharanam (sacred jewels of the deity) will reach pathinettampadi (18 steps leading to the deity) at 6 PM on January 14. At around 6.30 PM, the Deeparadhana (worship with lamps) will take place with the Lord adorning the jewels. All facilities for the devotees to witness the Makaravilakku and Makarajyothi are in place," he said.

Makarajyothi is a star, which is worshipped by pilgrims on Makara Sankranti (Pongal) every year. It is the star Sirius located in Canis Major constellation.

According to reports, it is believed that Lord Ayyappa asserts himself as the Makarajyothi to bless his devotees. The flame appears on the Ponnambalamedu hill, which is around 8 km from the shrine.

The lighting of the lamp by the Kerala government will be held with the support of the Travancore Devoswom Board and the forest department, at Ponnamabalamedu.

Padmakumar also said that the state health department and police at Sabarimala and nearby areas were ready to deal with any untoward incident.

"The temple will close on January 20. Only the members of the royal family of Pandalam are allowed on that day. The last day for other devotees is January 19," he said.

However, compared to last year, Sabarimala has witnessed a lean crowd for the annual festival this time. Devotees are apprehensive over chances of violent protests in case any more women of menstrual age attempt to trek the hill during the festival.

Owing to the earlier violence witnessed at the hilltop shrine over the issue of entry of women, the police have strengthened security at Sabarimala, Pamba and its base camp at Nilakkal.

Meanwhile, the three-member monitoring committee appointed by the Kerala high court, comprising former high court Justices PR Raman, S Sirijagan and additional director general of police A Hemachandran, inspected Nilakkal, Pamba and Sannidhanam. They expressed satisfaction over the facilities arranged for the devotees.