- Kerala to allow Sabarimala pilgrimage in 2020
- Chief Minister of Kerala informed that the Mandala Makaravilakku pilgrimage season will be conducted
- COVID-19 protocols will be followed religiously
- The pilgrimage season will start from 15th of November until 20th of January
Kerala Government has announced that the forthcoming Mandala Makaravilakku Pilgrimage season in Sabarimala will be conducted, however, only a limited number of pilgrims will be allowed and COVID-19 norms will be followed religiously, said Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan.
The pilgrimage season will start from 15th of November 2020 until 20th of January 2021.
The Chief Minister of Kerala, while addressing the media, said, “Sabarimala is the most important pilgrimage centre in our state, but in the wake of COVID pandemic, it has been decided to hold this year’s Mandala Makaravilakku pilgrimage with a limited number of pilgrims without symbolically reducing any rituals.”
A committee which consists of the Chief Secretary, the Chief of the State Police, and also the Principal Secretaries of the Home, Devaswom, Forest and Health Departments shall examine and report on all matters relating to that place, including the number of pilgrims per day from each states coming in.
The Chief Secretary will also decide on the inclusion of any more departmental secretaries in the committee if he thinks it is needed. These officials will also discuss the arrangements with their counterparts in other states including Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana from where the maximum pilgrims come to Sabarimala.
Chief Minister Vijayan informed that the admission to the Sabarimala in 2020 will be regulated via the Virtual queue system of the Kerala Police department to a limited number of pilgrims.
The Chief Minister added, “Arrangements will be made for the pilgrims who register through the virtual queue system. Those above the age of 65 years and below 10 years will not be allowed. Pilgrims should come with COVID negative certificate. To ensure that COVID patients do not reach for pilgrimage, antigen tests will also be conducted at various centres with the help of the health department,”.
Further giving details about the steps taken to conduct the festival, CM said, “Pilgrims will have to start their return journey immediately after performing the darshan at Sabarimala.”
He added, “They will not be allowed to stay back in Pampa and Sannidhanam. Drinking water will be provided in steel containers for a refundable cost of ₹100, on the return of the container. Annadanam will be only for limited pilgrims and will be served on paper plates.”
Consumerfed and Supplyco will be the 2 chains who will set up shops for selling essential items. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) will run special services and set up additional buses to ensure social distancing norms are followed. Also, special arrangements will be made to collect ghee for anointing at the place which ahs been designated by the Devaswom Board.
He said, “The health department will examine the health aspect of making the mask mandatory when devotees climb the mountain. As public bathing in the river cannot be allowed, sprinkler or shower system will be installed for bathing at Pampa and Erumeli,” and added that “The Thiruvabharana procession in connection with the Makaravilakku will be conducted in full compliance with the COVID protocol,”.