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Lord Ayyappa Temple Opens, Devotees Will Be Allowed From November 16 | India News

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SABARIMALA: The Lord Ayyappa Hill Shrine here opened on Sunday evening for the annual two-month Mandala-Makaravillakku season, adhering to strict Covid-19 protocol.
Devotees would be allowed to enter the temple only from Monday morning, temple sources said.
There were no special bids on Sunday.
Melshanti AK Sudheer Namboothiri opened the doors of the sanctum sanctorum and lit the lamps at 5 p.m. in the presence of Tantri Kandararu Rajeevaru, announcing the start of the 62-day long pilgrimage season.
The newly elected Melsanthi VK Jayaraj Potti and Malikkapuram Melsanthi MN Raj Kumar were the first to climb the sacred 18 steps and offer prayers.
They took over tonight.
Each day, only 1,000 pilgrims, who have booked through the virtual queue system, could offer prayers.
They must carry a negative Covid-19 certificate taken 48 hours before arriving at the Nilackkal and Pamba base camps.
Covid-19 kiosks will be opened at base camps for testing.
Pilgrims will not be able to stay in the temple facilities.
According to the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the hilltop shrine, around 85,000 devotees would be offering prayers during this pilgrim season.
On Saturdays and Sundays, 2,000 people would be allowed to darshan.
The health department has also arranged for antigen testing at various centers, including all bus stops and train stations in Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruvalla, Chengannur, and Kottayam, where pilgrims arrive to make their way to Ayyappa temple.
According to Covid protocol, those in the 10 to 60 age group will only be able to offer prayers at the shrine, where thousands of devotees visit each year during pilgrimage season.
Pilgrims can only walk through the Swami Ayyappan road.
Doctors, including specialists, will be assigned on a rotating basis for seven days each, while the rest of the staff will rotate for 15 days from November 15 to January 19 of next year.

Times of India

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