Sabarimala | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Sabarimala: Ayappa temple here will open on Monday for the Mandala-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season. The newly elected head priests for Sabarimala and Malikappuram shrines will officially take charge at 6 pm on Monday. The ceremony will be held under Tantri Kandararu Maheshwaru Mohanaru.
The two-month-long annual pilgrimage season will commence on November 16. Amid the COVID restrictions, 30,000 devotees per day will be allowed to have darshan. Children below 10 years are also permitted to visit the temple. Only those who booked via virtual queue will be allowed.
The pilgrimage will be held strictly adhering to COVID-19 protocol with authorities insisting that two doses covid vaccination certificate or RT-PCR negative certificate took within 72 hours is mandatory for visiting the hill shrine. The devotees should also produce any original ID proof like the Aadhaar card, Voters’ ID and passport.
Special counters will be opened at Nilakkal for spot booking in the virtual queue. 10 counters will be established to examine the virtual queue documents at Nilackal. TDB informed that spot booking counters will be opened in recognised midway shelters (Edathavalam).
COVID testing facility will be available at Nilakkal. Rs 500 will be charged for the test. RT-PCR testing facility will be available at railway stations in Kottayam, Chengannur and Thiruvalla and major midway shelters. The test results will be made available within 3 hours.
Vehicles carrying the devotees must be parked at the base camp in Nilakkal. Bathing and ‘Bali tharpanam’ in Pampa river will be permitted. Trekking to the temple will be allowed only through the Swami Ayyappan Road.
Devotees are restricted from camping at Sannidhanam and Pampa. Devaswom Board will organise ‘Annadanam’ at Nilakkal, Sannidhanam and Pampa. Ayappa Seva Sangham will also distribute food to the devotees at Pampa and Sannidhanam.