SABARIMALA: Hundreds of devotees on the auspicious occasion of 'Makaravilakku', witnessed the makara jyothi on the hill, marking the culmination of the two-month-long pilgrimage in the famous Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala in Kerala. Strict COVID-19 protocols were in place this time and the number of devotees were limited to a few thousands unlike the usual rush.
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.
As per tradition 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 childhood.
Lord Ayyappa was adorned with the holy jewels, 'Thiruvabharanam' and the 'deeparadhana' (arti) was performed.
Devotees were heard chanting Saranam Ayyappa after the divine light or makara jyothi, was seen on the hills of Ponnambalamedu marking the end of the ritual.Temple officials said that there was a steep fall in revenue collection where only Rs 16 crore was collected till Tuesday when compared to the revenue of Rs 260 crore last year.(PTI inputs)