Sabarimala temple opens today to rain-induced curbs

Spot booking in Virtual Queue closed, ban on bathing in the Pampa

With less than 24 hours left for the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala to open for the annual pilgrimage season, authorities on Sunday braved heavy rain to complete the arrangements for the devotees.

A meeting convened by the Cheif Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday decided to regulate the number of pilgrims in the first few days in view of the continuing rains. With the Pampa remaining turbulent, the pilgrims have been banned from entering the river at Pampa-Triveni and in other bathing ghats. To restrict visitors, the window for spot booking in the Virtual Queue system will be closed, while those who had booked slots earlier may be permitted a change of date.

Officials said the heavy rain at Sannidhanam and the Pampa base camp severely affected the last-leg preparations but the departments raced against time to complete the basic arrangements, including security. Renovation of the Sannidhanam and the Valiya Nadapandal, cleaning of pavements, and streamlining of medical facilities were completed on Sunday.

Personnel of the Fire and Rescue Services have been deployed across Sannidhanam, Pampa and Nilackal. Teams of the Rapid Action Force too have arrived. The KSRTC has deployed a fleet of buses and staff for the pilgrimage service.

For medical emergencies

To address emergency needs while trekking, medical centres and oxygen parlours have been set up at five locations. These units will have facilities for resting, first aid, and to check blood pressure. For those developing cardiac issues while climbing the hill, automated external defribillators along with trained nursing staff will be deployed. Dispensaries will be opened at Sannidhanam, Nilackal, Charalmedu, and Erumeli. An emergency operation theatre will be established at Sannidhanam. For free treatment of pilgrims enrolled under the Karunya scheme, arrangements will be made in hospitals in Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts.

At 5 p.m. on Monday, outgoing head priest V.K. Jayaraj Potti will open the sanctum sanctorum in the presence of chief priest (Tantri) Kandararu Mahesh Mohanararu. This will be followed by the transferring of the fire to the ‘aazhi.’

Melsanthis’ installation

Later in the day, the newly selected melsanthis for the Ayyappa temple and the Malikappuram Devi temple, N.Parameswaran Naboothiri and Sambhu Namboothiri, will be installed. The new melsanthis will hold charge of their respective temples for the next one year .

The Mandalapuja festival this year is from November 16 to December 26 while the temple will reopen for the Makaravilakku festival from December 30 to January 20, 2022.

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