More than 2.5 lakh pilgrims have visited Lord Ayappa Temple at Sabrimala in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district in the first six days of the ongoing pilgrimage season, said Kerala Devaswom Department Minister K Radhakrishnan on Wednesday.
“2,61,874 pilgrims have visited Sabarimala in the first six days of this pilgrim season. There are indications that the number of devotees will increase in the coming days,” said the Minister.
The portals of the Lord Ayappa Temple at Sabrimala opened on November 17 for devotees for the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku festivals, marking the beginning of the two-month-long annual pilgrimage season.
The Minister further said that 47,947 people had come for darshan on November 17, the first day of the season.
The minister also mentioned that more devotees are expected to reach in the coming days.
“The extended darshan schedule has made it more convenient for the devotees. Temple will be open at 3 am instead of 5 am and it will be opened in the afternoon at 3 pm. This has also reduced the waiting time of the devotees,” he said.
Radhakrishnan said that the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has so far operated 6,693 services on the Nilakkal-Pampa route and return.
“9,142 people sought treatment in various treatment centers in Sabarimala. A separate mail id has also been started exclusively for the feedback of devotees- email@example.com. The complaints and suggestions are being reviewed on a respective day and the inadequacies are being resolved,” the Minister added.
The Chief priest (Melsanthi) opened the sanctum sanctorum in the presence of the thantri of the temple and lit the lamp at the hill shrine on November 17.
The 41-day Mandala season began on November 17 with the start of the month of Vrishchikam of the Malayalam calendar and will end on December 27.
Live booking facilities have been set up for the devotees, who could not book their darshan slots via online mode.
K Jayaraman Namboothiri took charge as Sabarimala’s chief priest, and Hariharan Namboothiri took over charge as chief priest of the Malikappuram temple.
According to K Rajan, Revenue minister the authorities expect at least 40 lakh devotees to visit the shrine this year. Close to 50,000 devotees are expected as per the virtual queue registrations now.
Last year, entry was allowed only through online registration following the COVID-19 protocols.
Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), the apex temple body manages the functioning of the hill shrine.
The Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is the most famous and prominent among all the Sastha temples in Kerala. The temple is situated on a hilltop (about 3000 feet above sea level) and is open to people belonging to all religions.
The temple is not open throughout the year but opens for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja, Makaravilakku, Vishu and also during the first day of every Malayalam month.
It is said that the pilgrims have to observe celibacy for 41 days before going to Sabarimala. Pilgrims take the traditional forest routes as well as the one from Pamba which is less physically challenging to reach the temple. (ANI)