Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Konni: There had been a considerable reduction in the number of devotees who attended the Uthram festival at the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple here. In the 15 days, including Meenam monthly pujas and the Uthram festival, only 25,000 devotees arrived at the temple.
The authorities had expected over 1.5 lakh devotees.
The nada was opened on March 14 and closed on March 28. Though 10,000 devotees were allowed for darshan daily, not even half the number turned up.
The Devaswom Board had asked the government to avoid virtual queue, but the health department had opposed the move in view of uncontrolled rush.
The lower turnout resulted in decrease in revenue. The Devaswom Board could collect only Rs 1.25 crore in 15 days. In 2019, the revenue was over Rs 16 crore.
At present, Covid negative certificate is mandatory to enter the shrine. The loss in income was also reflected at the ‘parayideel’ custom at Pamba. Only 250 nelparas (paddy barrels) were offered here.
The Devaswom Board hopes more devotees will arrive for the Medam monthly puja and Vishu festival amidst the Covid vaccination drive which is being held.