Kerala’s Sabarimala temple reopened on Friday (October 16) and devotees will be allowed to enter the shrine from Saturday with strict safe operating protocols in place.
The popular temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, draws thousands of devotees every day. The main pilgrim season begins next month.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that devotees must bring a Covid-negative certificate taken no longer than 48 hours prior to “darshan”, besides a compulsory fitness certificate and entry only for people between 10-60 years of age. The entry points will have Antigen Test facilities. The customary bathing at Pamba river has been discontinued with no permission to stay at base camps of the hill temple.
(File Pic) pic.twitter.com/U7T9irwWjw
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) October 16, 2020
Only 250 people will be permitted inside the shrine every day. Anticipating a large number of pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala Chief Secretary Dr Vishwas Mehta has written a letter to his AP counterpart Nilam Sawhney appealing to her to ensure that the pilgrims adhere to the COVID-19 protocols.
Initially only 1,000 pilgrims on week days and 2,000 pilgrims on weekends will be allowed to register (https://sabarimalaonline.org), on a first come first serve basis, said Mehta.
The Sabarimala temple was likely to reopen in June after Kerala handled the first wave of Covid-19 well. However, it was postponed again after the chief priest of the temple wrote a letter raising concerns over the increasing coronavirus cases and the likely impact on temple rituals if any devotee tests positive.
Kerala recently witnessed another surge in COVID-19 cases as the state recorded almost 8,000-10,000 cases a day in the last month.
COVID protocol for Sabarimala temple visit
- All pilgrims will have to register on the portal — https://sabarimalaonline.org
- COVID negative certificate is mandatory for darshan
- Children and elders will not be allowed to visit temple
- Ghee Abhishekam, bathing at Pampa river will not be allowed