TDB seeks to allow more pilgrims in Sabarimala; guidelines to be issued soon
Thiruvananthapuram: The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) will approach the government requesting to increase the number of pilgrims allowed in Sabarimala temple. The board wants to allow more pilgrims in the temple once the COVID-19 spread decreases in the state.
At the same time, the sources related to the government also hinted plans to allow more pilgrims as the COVID cases decreases.
Currently, only 1000 devotees are allowed in the temple per day from Monday to Friday. 2000 pilgrims are allowed on Saturdays and Sundays and 5000 are permitted to visit the temple during special occasions like ‘Makaravilakku’.
Devaswom bench of the High Court also directed the government to consider TDB’s proposals while fixing the number of devotees allowed to visit Sabarimala per day. In this background, the board has raised the demand.
TDB president N Vasu informed that opinion of the committee headed by the chief secretary will be considered to take a final decision in this regard. Though devotees will not be allowed to camp in Sannidhanam and Pamba, they will be permitted to camp in Nilakkal.
At the same time, the TDB has taken a stance to perform ‘Annadhanam’ on a limited scale at Sannidhanam.
Though the number of pilgrims decreased, the board has to meet a daily expense of Rs 1 crore at Sabarimala. Earlier, TDB has earned Rs 350 crore to Rs 400 crore from Sabarimala every year. It is estimated that the board will not collect even one-tenth of this revenue in this year.
Meanwhile, TDB has planned to conduct the auction of stalls at places including Sannidhanam on Thursday. Earlier, Rs 50 crore was earned from this auction.
As the entry to the temples restricted amid the pandemic, TDB has already faced a loss of Rs 300 crore.
Antigen test at Nilakkal
The Travancore Devaswom Board will try to find more sponsors to make antigen test at Nilakkal free for all pilgrims.
It is consideredthat free antigen test is not practical in the coming two-month-long pilgrimage season. If the TDB fails to find sponsors, pilgrims will be asked to undergo the test at their own expense.