Sabarimala all set for Mandala season, detailed guidelines issued for smooth conduct

Sabarimala Heritage Tourism Project moving at a snail's pace

Sabarimala: The Lord Ayyapa Temple at Sabarimala is all set for the 41-day Mandala Season commencing from next Monday (Nov 15) and concluding with the Mandala Puja slated for December 26. The police will open five special counters at Nilakkal for spot booking by devotees who fail to get slots for viewing the deity ('darshan') through the virtual queue system.

About 10 counters will be opened for checking the documents of those devotees who have already booked darshan through the virtual queue. When a pilgrim books darshan through the virtual queue system, he will be notified then and there itself about the report timing at Nilakkal.

Those who have applied for spot booking will be allowed to have darshan in the slots that come vacant following the non-reporting of the devotees, who have booked darshan through virtual queue, at Nilakkal on time. Those who want to avail themselves of spot booking will have to wait at Nilakkal for some time to get slots, if any.

Mandala Kalam

Mandala Kalam or Mandala Season pilgrimage to the hill shrine commences from the first day of the Vrishchikam month and ends on the 11 day of the Dhanu month as per the traditional Malayalam calendar. This period coincides to mid-November to mid-December. (A mandala is a period of approximately 40 days.)

Mandala Puja will be held on December 26, Sunday. It is often observed on 11th or 12th day of the Dhanu month.

General guidelines

  • ENTRY: During Mandala season, only 30,000 devotees will be allowed entry daily for darshan at Sabarimala.
  • DOCUMENTS: You should take along with you documents such as Aadhaar card and RT-PCR certificate taken within 72 hours before the Sabarimala visit. For those who have taken two doses of vaccines, the vaccination certificate will be a valid proof.
  • COVID-19 TESTING: The facilities for RT-LAMP and antigen tests will be ready at Nilakkal. The report of the RT-LAMP test will be provided within three hours. Those who do not have vaccination certificate and RT-PCR certificate can make use of these testing facilities. The Health Department is also planning to introduce kiosks for RT-PCR testing in Chengannur, Thiruvalla and Kottayam railway stations and at major pilgrim rest centres. (RT-LAMP denotes Reverse Transcriptase loop-mediated isothermal amplification.)
  • PARKING: The vehicles of pilgrims will be allowed entry till Nilakkal. After parking the vehicle there, the pilgrims will have to reach Pamba by KSRTC bus.
  • NEYYABHISHEKAM: "Neyyabhishekam" (anointing the idol with ghee) will be conducted in the temple daily between 5.30 am to 12 noon. The Health Department's stance this time is that the "neyyabhishekam" offering by devotees cannot be done in the conventional way because of COVID-19 protocols. It has advised that the ghee brought back after "abhishekam" should be given in return of the ghee offered by devotees. No final decision has been taken on this suggestion. Those who come in the afternoon can collect the ghee used for "abhishekam" after giving the neythenga (the coconut used for storing the ghee carried by the devotee) at the counter.
  • OFFERINGS: Devotees will be given opportunity to do offerings such as Kalabhabhishekam, Pushpabhishekam, Archana, Ganapthy Homam, Bhagavathi Seva, Usha Pooja, Ucha Pooja, Deeparadhana and Athazha Pooja. But there is advanced booking for Udayasthamana Pooja and Padi Pooja.
  • APPAM & ARAVANA: Devotees can buy "prasadams" such as "appam" and "aravana" from the counter at Sannidhanam.
  • PAMBA SNANAM: Travancore Devaswom Board president N Vasu informed that the pilgrims would be allowed to take bath in the Pamba river.
  • CLIMBING ROUTE: The to-and-fro trek to Sabarimala from Pamba will be allowed only through the Swamy Ayyappan Road. The trek through Appachimedu and Neelimala will be barred.
  • TRADITIONAL ROUTE: Devotees will not be allowed to trek the traditional forest route through Azhutha, Karimala and Kallidamkunnu from Erumeli. Travel through the traditional Pullumedu route from Vandiperiyar is also banned.
  • LAYING OF SHEETS: No one will be allowed to spread sheets (viri) and take rest in the Sabarimala Sannidhanam. But devotees will get time to open "irumudi kettu" and prepare for "neyyabhishekam" offering. They will not be allowed to sit for a long time at Sannidhanam to take rest.
  • MEDICAL FACILITIES: Hospital facilities will be put up at Sannidhanam, Pamba, Charalmedu and Nilakkal. Three off-road ambulances are kept ready to take those who need emergency medical aid from Sannidhanam to Pamba.
  • DOLLY: The dolly service — carriages akin to palanquin — will be allowed only for the benefit of those who are physically incapable of climbing the hills.
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