Good news for pilgrims as Lord Ayyapppa darshan begins at Sabarimala temple today! Doors of the nationwide famous Lord Ayyappa’s shrine in Sabarimala have been thrown open for the devotees, news agency PTI reported. The shrine has been opened for the annual 2 month long Mandala-Makaravillakku season and devotees will be allowed to visit the famous shrine from today onwards. With the threat of Coronavirus infection still looming, the temple administration has taken all health and Covid-19 sanitisation precautions and protocols. The gates of the temple were opened by Melshanti A K Sudheer Namboothiri on Sunday evening in the presence of Tantri Kandararu Rajeevaru.
Without organising any special puja for the temple opening ceremony. Namboothiri also lit the lamps in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. From Monday onwards, the temple will remain open for a pilgrimage period of about 62 days. Soon after the temple opening rituals got completed, the newly elected melsanthi V K Jayaraj Potti and Malikkapuram Melsanthi M N Raj Kumar began their trek to climb the holy 18 steps and offer prayers at the temple before taking charge of the affairs of the temple.
In the wake of Coronavirus pandemic, the temple administration for now has put a bar on the entry of pilgrims and a maximum of 1000 pilgrims will only be allowed to visit the deity on a day. All pilgrims willing to visit the deity will also need to produce a Covid-19 certificate two days before they reach the Nilackkal and Pamba base camps. Similar to many other pilgrim places, the temple administration at Sabarimala has also established a Covid-19 testing kiosk for those pilgrims who want to get tested at the temple venue itself. The administration has also clarified that no pilgrims will be allowed to stay at the premises of the temple.
Among the first batch of pilgrims who trekked to reach the famous shrine were visitors from outside the state of Kerala, close sources told the PTI. The trek of the first batch of pilgrims began in the wee hours of Monday at around 3 AM from Pampa base camp in a virtual queue system. The police and staff from the temple authorities also kept a strict vigil on the movement of people to ensure that the pilgrims follow all the Coronavirus related protocols including wearing masks and maintaining physical distance.
According to the estimates of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), about 85000 devotees will visit the shrine this season. Anticipating a huge footfall of devotees during the weekend, the temple administration has also allowed the entry of upto 2000 people on Saturdays and Sundays. According to the Covid-19 protocols issued by the temple, only those pilgrims in the age group of 10 and 60 years will be allowed to visit the temple.