Adhering to COVID norms, devotees start annual pilgrimage to Sabarimala

Wearing masks and strictly adhering to COVID-19 protocols, devotees of Lord Ayyappa trekked the holy hill of Sabarimala and offered prayers at the temple here as the shrine opened for the annual two-month long Mandala-Makaravilakku season on Monday.
Adhering to COVID norms, devotees start annual pilgrimage to Sabarimala

Thiruvananthapuram

It is the first annual pilgrimage season at the hill temple after the coronavirus outbreak. “Sannidhanam,” the temple complex which used to witness a sea of devotees on the first day of the Malayalam month of Vrichikam, saw only few devotees on Monday morning. Pilgrims were allowed to trek the hills since 3 am from Pampa, the base camp, through a virtual queue system, temple officials said.
Pilgrims from neighbouring states were among the most who flocked to the shrine in the initial hours, Devaswom Board sources here said.
Each day, only 1,000 pilgrims, who have booked through the virtual queue system, would be allowed to offer prayers. During Saturdays and Sundays, 2,000 people would be allowed for darshan and on Mandala pooja and Makaravilakku days 5,000 pilgrims would be permitted, it added. Those in the 10-60 age group would only be allowed to offer prayers at the shrine. Devotees have to carry COVID-19 negative certificates obtained 48 hours before they reach Nilackkal and Pamba.

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