Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday announced that 1,000 devotees will be allowed to visit Sabarimala temple daily when it opens for devotees for the two-month long pilgrim season from November 16. During holidays, and on the 'Makaravilakku' day, more pilgrims may have to be allowed darshan, CM said.
With the temple all set to open for the Mandala-Makaravilakku season, the government has made elaborate arrangements for the pilgrims in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
It would be mandatory for devotees planning to trek to the shrine to carry COVID-19 negative certificates and those deployed for duties at the temple will also have to produce them.
The CM said if pilgrims from other states tested positive, they would be given all facilities for undergoing treatment in Kerala. However, if they wished to return to their respective states, necessary arrangements would be made.
The Sabarimala temple had opened for devotees during the five-day monthly puja from October 17 after remaining shut for the past six months.
An expert committee earlier this month had submitted a recommendation that up to 1000 devotees can be allowed into Sabarimala temple per day. The report also suggested that pilgrims in the age group 10-60 years will only be allowed in the temple.
Sabarimala VirtualQ system is in place to regulate the pilgrim flow to the temple. Though this was launched in 2011-12 to allow pilgrims to book slots for darshan, now it is to be mandatorily used by the pilgrims before commencing their journey to the temple. Earlier this month, when the temple was opened for five days of rituals, the slots for online booking were completed reportedly within two hours. Only 250 pilgrims were allowed in the temple for the five-days pooja.