The Kerala government has given permission for pilgrims to be allowed at the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala for the five-day puja from Friday, 16 November.
The temple is also likely to reopen on 30 December for the two-month Mandala-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season.
Earlier in June, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) had decided that Kerala’s Sabarimala temple will not be open for the public for the monthly prayers.
Who can go for the pilgrimage? What is the protocol to adhere to? Read on.
For how long will the Sabarimala temple be open?
The temple will be open for pilgrims during the five-day puja at the start of Malayalam month Thulam, which begins from 17 October. Then, the temple will open again for the Mandala puja which is on 26 December and the temple will close on 27 December after the 41-day Mandala pilgrimage season. It will open again on 30 December for the Makaravilakku pilgrimage season, which is on 14 January 2021 and the temple will close on 20 January 2021.
Who is allowed to enter the temple?
All devotees must compulsorily wear masks
Children and senior citizens above the age of 65 are barred from the pilgrimage
Only those who book through the virtual queue system of Kerala Police can proceed after the Nilakkal base camp for the darshan. That is, people will be given a time slot when they can visit the temple and will have to come accordingly to avoid crowding and to maintain physical distance
Do I need to take a COVID-19 test to enter the shrine?
Devotees will have to clear an antigen test for COVID-19 at the Kerala Health Department’s facility at Pampa or Nilakkal before proceeding for the main darshan.
What are the other COVID-19 protocols?
KSRTC (Kerala’s state government) buses will ply adhering to COVID-19 protocol
Disposable paper plates will be used for Annadanam. Drinking water will be provided in steel bottles for Rs 100 from Pampa. The amount will be refunded when the bottle is returned
Pilgrims will not be allowed to rest overnight on the premises of the temple and in guest houses
The viriveppu, customary resting facility, will not be allowed at sannidhanam, but will be allowed in a limited scale at the Nilackal base camp
What are the additional facilities installed in the temple?
Devotees will not be allowed to take dip in river Pamba. Sprinklers and showers will be installed in Pampa and Erumeli bathing ghats.
Special arrangements are being made for performing offerings including Neyyabhishekam (ghee abhishekam) and Annadanam (the tradition of offering food) adhering to COVID-19 protocol.
Outlets of the state’s Supplyco and Consumerfed departments will be opened at Pamba to ensure availability of essential items.
Can devotees from other states visit Sabarimala?
There will not be any ban on devotees from other states. Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran will soon organise a virtual meet with ministers of neighbouring states, like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Puducherry, from where most pilgrims arrive.
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