Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 28 (IANS) The annual two-month-long festival season of the famed Sabarimala temple will be held, but with very strict protocols, which includes restrictions on the number of pilgrims, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Monday.
The temple’s festival season begins on November 15 and the most important Makarvilaku day will be held on January 14, 2021.
Briefing the media after chairing a review meeting on the steps to be taken as Covid cases are spiking in the state, Vijayan said: “We get maximum pilgrims from neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It has been decided that a committee led by our Chief Secretary will sit down and decide how many pilgrims should come from these states and once done, our officials will go to these states and inform the authorities there. Likewise, there will be a ministerial level meeting with these states.”
“All pilgrims will have to register in the virtual Q system. Those coming from neighbouring states will have to come with a Covid negative certificate and once here, all will have to undergo a test. At no cost, will pilgrims be allowed to stay back in the temple. They will have to return back soon after offering the prayers,” he added.
The meeting has also decided to see that the popular holy dip in river Pamba will not be allowed and instead, a shower system will be provided where all pilgrims can undertake, before they begin their climb to the temple.
“We have decided to provide a steel vessel for taking drinking water with the pilgrim on a deposit of Rs 100. If the vessel is returned, the money will be returned,” said Vijayan, adding that it would be best if children and those aged above 65 avoid coming this time.
A decision if masks will be compulsory when the pilgrims climb to the temple will be decided by the health authorities shortly.
Situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea level, Sabarimala temple is four km uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district, which is around 100 km from the state capital.
The temple, which bars the entry of women who have attained puberty, is accessible only on foot from Pamba.
Every pilgrim carries with him/her a kit (which contains coconuts which are broken just before climbing the 18 steps) on their head during the pilgrimage. Without it, no one is allowed to go up the holy 18 steps at the Sannidhanam.