Vijayakumar Narayanan was the first devotee to have darshan at the famed Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala when the hilltop shrine opened to devotees on Saturday after remaining closed for over six months in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
Vijayakumar had vowed that he would pay obeisance at the Sabarimala temple in his police uniform if he were to be conferred with the IPS.
Though he had been on the list of officers recommended for IPS since 2017, it was on August 30 that he was conferred with the IPS. He took charge as the SSB SP in Ernakulam on October 9.
Only a few devotees arrived at the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala on Saturday as the temple reopened for the monthly puja. Wearing masks and carrying COVID-19 negative certificate, 144 made the long climb to the hilltop shrine.
Only 250 devotees are permitted darshan at the temple in a day as per the COVID-19 protocol.
The shrine will remain open for pilgrims to offer prayers until October 21, marking the first five days of the new Malayalam month 'Thulam'.
COVID restrictions at Sabarimala
Amid the ongoing pandemic, all staff, officials and devotees are instructed to strictly abide the COVID-19 protocols as dictated by the State and the Health Department.
• All pilgrims who wish to visit the temple for darshan should register with Kerala Government's 'Jagratha' web portal and make the bookings through the Kerala Police virtual queue system.
• Pilgrims would also have to produce a certificate showing that they are COVID-19 negative and a medical certificate certifying that they are fit enough to make the Sabarimala trek, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Thursday.
"The insistence on the certificate of good health should not be seen as harassment of devotees. On the other hand, it was for the safety and protection of the devotees," Vijayan said.
• The devotees should have masks, sanitizers and gloves.
• They are not permitted to walk in groups. Entry is only through Vadasserikkara and Erumeli routes.
• Hospitals are up and running at Nilakkal, Pamba and Sannidhanam. Paramedical staff has been appointed in these hospitals. Doctors will be deployed today.
• All routes, save for the Vadasserikkara and Erumely route, all others have been closed to restrict the passage to Sabarimala.
• Devotees will not be permitted to take the ritualistic dip in the Pamba river. Showers have been installed at Pamba for the devotees to take baths.
• They will not be allowed to take rest at Erumely and Idathavalam.
• Traditional petta thullal (ritualistic dance involving pilgrims' mainly first-timers to Sabarimala) and processions with more than 5 persons have been prohibited.
• Artefacts, masks, wooden arrows and other objects used for traditional processions should not be taken on rent.
• Pilgrims are prohibited from entering Manimala, Meenachil rivers and other water bodies in the area.
• The showers installed near Valiyathodu in Erumely will be avoided this time because of the heavy flow of water. These showers will be shifted and set up at some other place.
• Bathing rooms and toilets should be used strictly complying with COVID protocol.
• If needed, pilgrims will be subjected to antigen tests.