As the famous Meenakshi Temple gears up for the Chithirai Festival next month, there is good news for devotees.

Free passes will no longer be issued to influential people, politicians and VIPs to witness the celestial wedding- ‘Meenakshi Tirukalyanam’.

Every devotee or visitor will now have to buy tickets across the counter before they enter the temple to witness the celestial wedding of Goddess Meenakshi with Lord Sundareswarar in the temple on April 23.

The decision to abolish the free passes was taken by the temple authorities in compliance with the orders of the High Court, temple sources told “The Hindu” on Saturday. P. Jayaraman, the Joint Commissioner and Executive Officer of Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, has confirmed that the ticket sales for the celestial wedding will commence four or five days before the Thirukalyanam event.

“Earlier, we used to issue passes to various categories of people depending on the seating capacity. Only those who had entry passes were allowed inside the temple. But that system will come to an end this year for the benefit of the common devotees,” he said.

The annual Chithirai Brahmotsavam begins on April 13 and concludes on April 25. The celestial wedding of Goddess Meenakshi will take place on April 23, the most important event.

The price of the Thirukalyanam ticket is likely to be fixed at Rs.200 each and it will be officially declared in a couple of days by the temple authorities.

Temple sources said that the introduction of tickets will put an end to the ‘bias towards VIPs, donors and those with high connections.” Nearly 30,000 devotees are expected to witness the celestial wedding between 8.15 a.m. and 8.45 a.m. on April 23 from various points in the temple.

The special stage for the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam is being renovated and spruced up for the big event.