Mandala Puja is the concluding day of the 41 days long austerity observed by devotees of Lord Ayyappa. The fasting begins on the first day of the Malayalam month Vrishchikam, which is 41 days before Mandala Puja.
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Rows of Agal vilakkus (Clay Oil lamps) are lit in every house. Karthigai is essentially a festival of lamps. The lighted lamp is considered an auspicious symbol.
“Panthrandu vilakku” is being observed in temples with great fervour and enthusiasm to commemorate the ‘Ten Avatars of Lord Vishnu’. The first avatar was ‘Matsya’ or the ‘fish’ from the satya yuga. Lord Vishnu took the form of a fish.