THIRUVANATHAPURAM: The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala, has effected a decision that devotees visiting the shrine must carry a COVID- 19 negative report from December 26.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, TDB President N Vasu said the RT-PCR test certificate must be taken not more than 48 hours prior to their visit to the temple, else they will not be permitted to undertake the pilgrimage. The Board also revealed that the Kerala government has provided Rs 50 Crore for the Sabarimala temple.
So far, 2,000 devotees are allowed daily from Monday to Friday. Only 3,000 devotees are allowed to visit the temple on Saturdays and Sundays. The Kerala High Court has allowed permission for 5,000 devotees to visit the Sabarimala shrine daily from next week with season starting.
Since it is the first annual pilgrimage season at the hill temple after the coronavirus outbreak, the Travancore Board is taking all measures to ensure the safety of the pilgrims.
The temple will remain closed after the Mandala Puja on December 26 and reopen for the Makaravilakku pooja on December 31 till January 19, when the pooja's end after the Makara Jyothi is sighted. After the last rituals on January 14, the temple would be closed on January 20, marking the end of the season.
The TDB authorities have limited to 100 the number of people taking part in the three-day procession carrying the Thiruvabharanam to be adorned on the idol of Lord Ayyappa during the Makaravilakku ceremony.