Sabarimala not to go Guruvayoor way

Updated December 15, 2020

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Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 15 (IANS) The Travancore Devasom Board (TDB) that oversees the affairs of the famed Sabarimala temple has decided it has no plans to do what the Sree Krishna Temple Guruvayoor authorities did by shutting the temple doors after Covid cases surged in Kerala.

The Guruvayoor temple was closed to public last week after 46 of the temple staff turned Covid positive.

N.Vasu, the TDB president said though there has been a spike in the Covid cases among the police and their own staff who are on duty at the Sabarimala temple, they do not have any plans to restrict the pilgrims from visiting the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

The two-month long annual temple festival that began last month is going forward in a controlled manner.

"All the mandatory Covid protocols are being taken care of and checking is also going on. What we intend to do is to reduce the number of police and our officials who are on duty in and around the temple town," said Vasu.

According to records, around 286 people have tested positive, which includes pilgrims, police and TDB officials, since the season began last month.

Due to Covid restrictions, the arrival of pilgrims on normal working days has been limited to 2,000 and on Saturday and Sunday it can be 3,000.

So Vasu feels there can be cutting down from the normal deployment of police and staff.

In normal times at a given time there are about 2,000 police officials on duty, however, with number of pilgrims restricted, authorities feel, they do not need such a huge deployment of police force.

The two month long annual festival which began on November 15, and the most important Makarvilaku day will be held on January 14, 2021.

All pilgrims will have to register in the virtual queue system.

This time all pilgrims who arrive for the pilgrimage will have to carry with them a Covid negative certificate and the test should have been done within 24 hours of their arrival.

One major change this time is that the popular holy dip in river Pamba will not be allowed instead a shower system will be provided which all pilgrims can undertake, before they begin their climb to the temple.

Situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea level, Sabarimala temple is four kilometre uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district, which is around 100 km from the capital city.

The temple's directive barring entry of women who have attained puberty, remains a sticky point. The temple is accessible only on foot from Pamba.

Every pilgrim carries with him/her a kit (which contains coconuts which are broken just before climbing the 18 steps) on their head during the pilgrimage. Without it no one is allowed to go up the holy 18 steps at the Sannidhanam.

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