From Sunday, 5,000 pilgrims allowed at Sabarimala daily

From Sunday, 5,000 pilgrims allowed at Sabarimala daily
A police personnel wearing PPE suit controlling the devotees at the 18 sacred steps to the sanctum sanctorum. File photo: Manorama

Kochi: As the overall daily COVID-19 cases across the country are on the decline, several restrictions on public gathering are being relaxed. The Kerala High Court has now granted permission to increase the number of pilgrims at the Sabarimala temple to 5,000 per day from this Sunday onwards, but with due checks on health risks.

Pilgrims, however, need to mandatorily produce negative certificates of the RT-PCR test to detect coronavirus.

The court also said that the high-level committee in this matter can consider if more devotees should be allowed during the Mandala-Makaravilakku season. However, the ban on pilgrims from offering ghee (neyyabhishekam) in person would continue.

Currently, 2,000 devotees are allowed to visit the Lord Ayyappa temple daily from Monday to Friday and 3,000 are allowed on Saturdays and Sundays.

However, 40 per cent of those who book online for visit do not show up. Half the pilgrimage season is over. In this scenario, the number of pilgrims can be revised, the court assessed.

The division bench, comprising Justice C T Ravikumar and Justice K Haripal, gave the order while considering the petitions filed by Travancore Devaswom Board Employees Front, Congress leader Ajay Tharayil, Chennai native K P Sunil and K Byju.

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