Kochi: The two-month long annual pilgrimage season at Sabarimala will begin on Sunday as a large posse of police personnel were deployed at the hill shrine. There will be no prohibitory orders this time around.
“There will be no prohibitory orders this time. However, a high vigil will be maintained on the law and order front,” Pathanamthitta district collector P.B. Nooh said.
The police has declared Sabarimala and adjoining areas as ‘special security zone’ during the entire Mandalam-Makaravilakku season.
“Over 2,800 police personnel have been deployed at Sabarimala in the initial phase. This is besides the contingents of central agencies like the NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) and the Rapid Action Force (RAF). Cops have been deployed in mufti and all accused in last year’s violence will be continuously monitored,” said Jose R., DySP, District Special Branch.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC banning unlawful assembly were clamped during the entire pilgrimage season last year owing to tense situation post the Supreme Court order allowing entry of women of all ages to the hill shrine.
This time around, the Lord Ayyappa temple will open on Saturday evening while regular pujas signalling the start of the pilgrimage season will be performed from early Sunday, the first day of Malayalam month Vrischikam.
Melshanti Vasudevan Nampoothiri will open the sanctum sanctorum of the temple at 5 pm on Saturday in the presence of Tantri Mahesh Mohanaru. Later A.K. Sudhir Nampoothiri will be installed as the New ‘Melshanti’ by performing ‘Kalas-abishekam’ before passing on the “moolamantram’ of Lord Ayyappa to him. The new Melshanti will perform regular pujas from 4 am on Sunday.
The first leg of the pilgrimage, the 41-day ‘Mandala’ phase, will culminate with the ‘mandala’ puja on December 27. It will be followed by ‘Makaravilakku’ with the ‘jyothi darshan’ as its highpoint on January 15.
The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), combined with various government departments and voluntary agencies, are busy making the last-minute arrangements for the smooth progression of the event.
“We’ve fixed price for all food materials being sold. Four squads have been deployed based at Sannidhanam, Pamba, Nilackal and Marakootam. Duty Magistrate and Executive Magistrate will function at Sannidhanam. The cooking or use of non-vegetarian food has been banned from Nilackall onwards,” said a senior Disaster Management official.
Devotees can avail the online registration facility (sabarimalaonline.org) extended by the TDB and the Kerala Police for hassle free darshan as the advance virtual queue coupons have been released.