Sabarimala pilgrimage to be held from Nov 16; COVID-19 negative certificate mandatory for devotees

South India
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The pilgrims would not be allowed to stay at Sannidhanam and they should immediately return after the conducting the Darshanam as well as rituals

The Kerala government on Monday said the annual pilgrimage to Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple from November 16 will be conducted by strictly following the COVID-19 norms.

Talking to reporters, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that elaborate arrangements would be put in place to ensure that only the pilgrims who are not infected by coronavirus would participate in the two-month long Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage.

“It is mandatory for the devotees to carry Covid-negative certificates for the smooth pilgrimage and the health department will conduct separate tests for the pilgrims,” he said.

The pilgrims would not be allowed to stay at Sannidhanam and they should immediately return after the conducting the Darshanam as well as rituals, the chief minister said.

The state government also decided to restrict the number of devotees coming from other states including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana this year, Vijayan said.

“Entry for the pilgrims would be allowed only through a virtual queue system,” Vijayan said.

A committee formed under Kerala chief secretary will decide the number of pilgrims to be allowed from other states during this pilgrimage season. The committee will comprise secretaries of home, health, Devaswom and forest departments, he added.

Kerala Devasom Minister Kadampally Surendran will talk to the ministers in the neighbouring states regarding the safety arrangements made in the background of COVID-19 situation, the chief minister said.

“Official level talks would also be held with the officials of the neighbouring states ahead of the beginning of the Sabarimala season, he added.

He said that the holy dip in the Pampa and Viri would not be allowed this time. Separate bathing arrangements would be made for the Ayyappa pilgrims at Pampa base.

The chief minister urged the pilgrims who are below ten years and above 60 years to abstain from this year’s pilgrimage keeping in view the pandemic situation.

Vijayan said that the state Health Department would study if wearing masks while climbing the hills would create any health problems for the pilgrims.

Image credit: Janam TV

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