Entry into the Sabarimala temple complex was restricted to 5,000 pilgrims on the occasion of Makaravilakku on Thursday (January 14) in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) said.
The pilgrims also observed strict COVID-19 protocols such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
Also only those who produced negative RT-PCR and antigen COVID-19 test results were granted permission to climb the hill from the base camp of Pamba.
TDB president N Vasu told the media that security arrangements were made even as there was a huge reduction in the number of pilgrims.
Barricades were erected to control crowding. Pilgrims who offered prayers in present days were not allowed to stay back atop the hill for the Makaravilakku festivities.
This year, people were also not allowed to assemble at places like Pullumedu, Pamba hilltop, Panchalimedu and Parunthumpara to see the Makarajyothi.
Such strict measures were made in light of the surging COVID-19 cases in recent weeks in Pathanamthitta district, where Sabarimala temple is located. Health officials also cautioned against large gatherings.
The reduction in the number of pilgrims have had financial consequences. This year, TDB’s income fell to ₹6.33 crore, as reported till January 12, from ₹60.2 crore last year.