The Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala opened on Sunday for the monthly 5-day pooja which will continue till August 21 for the Malayalam month of Chingam. However, keeping the COVID-19 protocol in mind devotees have been barred this time.
At a time when the country is in the throes of a virus pandemic wreaking havoc all across, the temple has shown restrain in continuing with the rituals in a pragmatic fashion. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the hill shrine says that only the usual rituals will be performed during this period.
The temple will open again from August 29 until September 2, said the TBD. The board has already announced that devotees who come to the shrine when it opens for the two-month pilgrim season starting November 16 will have to carry COVID-19 negative certificates for darshan.
“This is an event which has been going on for decades. The government, as well as the Travancore Devaswam board, is eager to see that the event takes place this year also but with limitations and restrictions,” said TDB president N Vasu.
The TDB said that they delayed the decision on the hill temple anticipating a huge footfall from the neighboring states which will adversely affect the COVID-19 measures. They even planned the darshan by devotees through online booking by furnishing COVID-free certificates, but an overwhelming response and applications forced them to abort this service and defer it further. The central government had already relaxed restrictions on visits to places of worship back in May. But temples, mosques, and churches chose to tread carefully and mostly remained closed looking at the surge in coronavirus cases in the country in the first week of June. Although a few churches and mosques were opened on special occasions temples mostly remained closed.