It was worth the wait for lakhs of devotees who anxiously waited for hours at the famed Sabarimala temple and its nearby places Friday evening to witness the Makara Jyothi - the celestial flame that appeared thrice on the horizon.
The flame first appeared soon after 7.07 p.m. and twice more after a minute's gap.
The sighting of the celestial flame on the horizon marked the finale of the three-month-long pilgrim season at the mountain shrine.
Several hundreds of pilgrims stayed at the temple and its vicinity for more than two days to witness the flame. Only the extremely lucky were able to go up the hill Saturday since the trails were closed because of the rush.
Excitement was mounting by the minute and the chants reached a crescendo as the flame appeared.
According to the authorities, this year set an all time high in the number of pilgrims at the shrine.
The state-owned Road Transport Corporation will be running more than 1,000 buses to take the pilgrims from the temple town to various parts of the state.
Speaking to IANS, state Devasom Minister Kadanapally Ramachandran said that last year he witnessed the spectacle for the first time and that he was sad he could not go this time.
"I am sad I couldn't go this time because there was a death in the family. I am keeping close contact with the top officials at Sabarimala. Everything has gone according to our plans," said Ramachandran.
According to the figures provided by the Devasom, collections at the temple has crossed Rs.131 crores as of Thursday, while last season it was Rs.120 crores during the same period.
It is the Devasom Ministry that oversees all the temples that are attached to the Devasom Board. The Sabarimala temple is one of the biggest grossers for the board.
The Sabarimala temple is in the state's Pathanamthitta district, situated on the Western Ghat ranges at an altitude of 914 metres above the sea level, four kilometres uphill from the river Pampa.
The number of pilgrims visiting the shrine has been going up every year.