Adhering to COVID protocol devotees witness Makaravilakku at Sabarimala

Sabarimala (Ker), Jan 14 (PTI) Amid strict COVID-19
protocol, hundreds of devotees on Thursday offered prayers at
the famous Lord Ayyappa temple here on the auspicious occasion
of 'Makaravilakku', marking the culmination of the over
two-month-long pilgrimage.
     The hill temple, which used to witness a heavy rush
on the occasionevery year, was thronged by only a few
pilgrims due to the strict safety guidelines in place in the
wake of the virus outbreak.
     As per the government directive, only 5,000 pilgrims
were permitted to climb the holy hills to offer prayers on the
day, Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) officials here said.
     Wearing face masks and carrying the customary
'irumudikettu' (the traditional bundle a devotee brings to
the shrine) over their heads, devotees gathered at the temple
complex to have a glimpse of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity
in the evening.
     The portals of the shrine was thrown open after the
'deeparadhana' (arti), which was performed to the idol of Lord
Ayyappa adorned with the holy jewels, 'Thiruvabharanam'.
     The jewels were brought here, moments before the
'arti', in a ceremonial procession, which started its journey
a couple of days earlier from the Pandalam palace, where,
according to legend, Lord Ayyappa was born and spent his
     The 'Saranam Ayyappa' chants intensified when the
'makara jyothi', considered a divine light by devotees,
flickered across the eastern horizon above the Ponnambalamedu
soon after the arti.
     Police, health department and other agencies made
elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the final leg
of the pilgrimage and to manage the crowd in compliance with
the COVID protocols.
     Meanwhile, state Devaswom Minister Kadakampally
Surendran earlier said here that the Left government was
prepared to extend all support for the developmentof
     Indicating the fall in revenue collection at the
hill temple, he said only Rs 16 crore was collected till
Tuesday in this season compared to the revenue of Rs 260 crore
last year.
     The minister also requested devotees to extend all
help to the hill shrine.PTI LGK BN

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)