Sabarimala to welcome 25,000 pilgrims a day, 2 vaccine doses or negative RT-PCR test mandatory

Sabarimala ready to welcome pilgrims, maximum number to be decided soon: Kerala govt

Thiruvananthapuram: With the annual pilgrimage season in Sabarimala only a month away, the Kerala government on Thursday informed that 25,000 pilgrims will be permitted to visit the temple via virtual booking in the initial period.

The pilgrims should be fully vaccinated or in possession of a negative RT-PCR certificate.

They will also be permitted to perform ablution at the Pamba river.


Pilgrims above 65 to be permitted
State Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan said that permission has also been granted to pilgrims under ten and over 65 years.

However, pilgrims will not be allowed to take the forest path to the shrine or stay back at Sannidhanam after darshan. Ghee from Abhishekam will be given to all pilgrims, the minister noted.

The state government informed that elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure safe darshan for pilgrims amid the COVID pandemic.

This year's annual pilgrimage season will begin on November 16.

Radhakrishnan told the state assembly on Wednesday that all basic facilities for the pilgrimage are ready at the Lord Ayyappa temple and its premises. He said that the arrangements have been done by adhering to social distancing norms according to the government guidelines.

The minister said that a joint action plan of the Health and Revenue departments has been drawn to address matters in various sectors including hospital facilities at Pamba, on the foothills of the shrine located in Pathanamthitta and nearby Erumeli, besides arrangements for RT-PCR testing.

"However, the government is yet to take a final decision on the number of pilgrims (usually called Ayyappas) to be permitted for darshan and the relaxation in the existing guidelines," the minister said.

Review meetings of the departments concerned and the Devaswom Board, the apex body for temples that manages the shrine, were held as part of the preparation for the season.

Besides meetings to finalise transportation facilities during the two-month-long pilgrimage season, a meeting was also convened to expedite the steps to ensure the availability of enough drinking water, food and toilet facilities in the premises of the shrine and nearby centres connected to the pilgrimage, the minister added.

After the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, the government had imposed strict restrictions for pilgrims to trek the hill shrine and offer worship there.

The number of pilgrims permitted for darshan had also been regulated last year during the season, which otherwise used to witness lakhs of devotees including those from various parts of the country and abroad flocking to offer prayers to Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity.

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