Sabarimala temple authorities expect normalcy to return soon

The tantri of the famed Sabarimala temple, Kantarar Mahesh Mohanaru on Wednesday expressed hope that things will soon fall in place so as to see that all the traditional rituals at the temple will happen.

Mohanaru said at the moment due to Covid protocols the full repertoire of the rituals, that have been in vogue at the famed temple, have been put on hold.

"Yes, due to the protocols, it's understandable that things have to be kept under check. We are hopeful that with passing time, all the rituals are done and we are all waiting for that," said Mohanaru.

The two month long temple season that began on November 16 will end in the third week of January with a few days break in the last week of this month.

Incidentally, this season it has been decided to limit the daily number of devotees to a maximum of 30,000 which should be either pre-booked or should get a spot booking, for which counters have been opened.

According to the temple authorities by now over 1.5 million pilgrims have pre-booked their temple visit.

"This time what we have found out is that pilgrims are able to have a very good 'darshan' of the deity," added Mohanaru.

And trying to make the pilgrimage an easy affair, the Kerala government has come out with a fresh directive and exempted all children below 10 years from a Covid test (RT-PCR).

The directive, however, states that the elders accompanying the children should ensure that the children strictly observe the Covid protocols and should have a mask, carry a sanitizer and ensure that social distancing is maintained.

The order also states that the elders are accountable for the children's health issues.

But for those above the age of 10, all must either carry a negative RT-PCR test report taken 72 hours before or should have taken both the vaccine jabs.

Incidentally, this temple, which is the biggest earner for the Travancore Devasom Board -- the body that runs this temple and numerous others in the South Kerala districts for a few years since 2018 -- has had a troubled festival season.

While the previous season was badly affected by Covid, this time, after the season opened, by now over Rs 20 crore has come by way of offerings and sale of 'appom' and 'aravana (payasem)' as the 'prasad'.

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