SABARIMALA: Though devotees were allowed to offer prayers at the Sabarimala hill shrine on Saturday after a gap of seven months, the response was lukewarm. Pampa, the 5-km long trek route and Sannidhanam wore a deserted look as only a limited number of devotees were allowed due to the lockdown restrictions.
Though the government had decided to allow 250 pilgrims a day, only 160 pilgrims visited the hill shrine on Saturday. However, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) expressed hope that more pilgrims will arrive during the next four days. The temple will close after the five day monthly poojas on October 21.
The TDB had prepared food for around 300 people at the Annadanam mandapam but only 150 people attended the temple feast.
Meanwhile, pilgrims who arrived on Friday evening were stranded at Nilakkal for hours as vehicles were allowed to proceed to Pampa only after 3am on Saturday. The police and health officers deployed at Nilakkal and Pampa checked the Covid negative certificates and body temperature before allowing each pilgrim to proceed to the temple. Around 20 showers were installed on the banks of Pampa and no pilgrim was allowed to enter the bathing ghats. The traditional trek route through Neelimala was blocked and pilgrims were allowed to take the Swami Ayyappan Road.
Sabarimala: Kalabhabhishekam was performed on the idol of Lord Ayyappa here on Saturday. As part of Kalabhabhishekam, thantri Rajivaru performed Brahmakalsa pooja at the mandapam at 10am in the presence of Melsanthi Sudhir Namboothiri. The ritual concluded with Kalabha-bhishekam during uchcha pooja.