Fewer pilgrims to be allowed this Sabarimala season

Deccan Chronicle.  | Gilveser Assary

Nation, In Other News

Pilgrims have to take a Covid test before and after the pilgrimage

File photo of Sabarimala.

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government on Monday decided to allow only a limited number of devotees to the Sabarimala hill shrine during the annual pilgrimage season including Makaravilakku.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that though notwithstanding the restrictions imposed on the number of devotees, all rituals and ceremonies at the temple will be held as usual.

A majority of pilgrims to Sabarimala come from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. During normal times there is no restriction on the number of pilgrims coming from the neighbouring states.

However, this time around only a limited number of devotees would be allowed from each state. A high-level committee headed by the chief secretary and the police chief, home secretary, devaswom principal secretary, health secretary and forest secretary has been constituted to examine the ground situation and recommend measures for the Sabarimala pilgrimage.

Kerala officials will hold discussions with their counterparts in the neighbouring states on the restrictions in Sabarimala. The devaswom minister will speak to his counterparts in other states and brief them about the steps being taken in Kerala.

Vijayan said entry to the hill shrine will be strictly through the virtual queue system put in place by the Kerala police. Pilgrims above the age of 65 and children should avoid visiting the shrine this season, he said.

The devotees who are registered for the pilgrimage will have to take a Covid test and obtain a negative certificate in their respective state. Another test will be conducted by Kerala health authorities on arrival in the state.

The pilgrims who normally spend the night in the hill shrine will not be allowed to stay back this time. After darshan they will have to immediately climb down the hill.

The makaravilakku thiruvabharanam ceremonial procession will be held strictly complying with Covid protocol.