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Sabarimala a sea of humanity

Radhakrishnan Kuttoor
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Thousands camp in nearby forests to view Makarajyoti today

The Sabarimala Sannidhanam turned into a sea of humanity by Thursday afternoon with tens of thousands of pilgrims from different parts of the country camping at the holy hillock to witness the annual Makarajyoti on Friday.

Forests surrounding the Sannidhanam, the Pampa hilltop, and Attathode are almost fully occupied by pilgrims.

‘‘We consider it a divine blessing to come to Sabarimala and worship the Makarajyoti. But for the divine will, we would not have reached here. We are not bothered about the poor infrastructure provided by the State government as our very mission is to have a glimpse of the presiding deity and the Makarajyoti,'' said Ramaraja Rao, 70-year-old Guruswami who is leading a group of 55 pilgrims from Vijayawada.

Songs and prayers

Many pilgrims, camping in groups at Sabarimala, are in a divine frenzy, singing bhajan day and night in tents pitched on hill slopes.

Many of them have brought cooking gas, provisions, vegetables, etc, for preparing food on their own, disregarding the Forest Department's plea not to cook food in open space in forests.

Even rooftops of buildings at the Sannidhanam have been occupied by pilgrims. Thousands of pilgrims are camping in tents at Malikappuram, Pulmedu, Uppupara, Pampa, Nilackal and Attathode for the Makarajyoti.

The auspicious Makarasankramapuja at the Ayyappa temple will be performed at 6.44 p.m. on Friday.

The celestial star, Makara, will appear on the eastern horizon of the Sannidhanam by then. The most important event, sighting of the Makarajyoti, a bright flame flickering at a distant hillside of Ponnambalamedu in the sacred grove, will follow immediately after the deeparadhana on Friday.

Pilgrims blocked

The police are blocking pilgrims at regular intervals at Pampa and in different segments along the Sabaripeetom-Marakkoottom stretch and at Saramkuthi on the trekking path to regulate their flow to the Sannidhanam.

Additional Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar; Travancore Devaswom Board president M. Rajagopalan Nair; members V. Sasi and K. Cicily; P. Chandrashekharan, Additional Director-General of Police; A. Hemachandran, Inspector-General of Police; and Special Commissioner appointed by the Kerala High Court M. Rajendran Nair; are camping at the Sannidhanam.

As many as 4,250 security personnel, including those from Central forces, have been deployed at Sabarimala and Pampa for crowd management.

Pathanamthitta Superintendent of Police (SP) is camping at Pampa to monitor vehicular traffic on the main trunk road. The blocking of vehicular traffic at Plappally was withdrawn following the intervention of the SP by 11.30 p.m. on Wednesday, facilitating a smooth flow of vehicles.

The customary Pampa feast and Pampa Vilakku were conducted at Pampa with religious fervour on Thursday.

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