Kerala

Preparations for Makaravilakku begin

With just days left for the Makaravilakku festival at the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) has started preparations for the smooth conduct of the ritual in adherence to the COVID-19 protocol.

Addressing mediapersons, TDB president N.Vasu said only 5,000 people who had booked their slots in advance through the virtual queue system would be permitted to the Sannidhanam on the day.

No persons would be permitted to camp in the adjoining forests or the vantage points at Parunthumpara, Panchalimedu, and Pulmedu for viewing the Makaravilakku.

He said the Makarasamkrama Puja would be held at 8.14 a.m on the day. The presiding deity would be adorned with the Thiruvabaranam during the Deeparadhana to be held later in the evening.

The annual pilgrimage season would draw to a close on January 20 morning, a day after the Guruti ritual at Malikappuram.

Revenue of ₹14.11 cr.

As per official estimates, 1,16,706 pilgrims visited the temple during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku season till January 8. The income during the period stood at ₹14.11 crore.

“This is absolutely insufficient considering the expenditure involved in organising the pilgrimage. We have sought additional financial assistance from the State government to address future needs,” Mr.Vasu said.

The government had so far granted ₹70 crore as assistance to the TDB over the last six months.

Meanwhile, the measures rolled out by the authorities to rein in an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Sannidhanam have begun to pay off with a sharp fall in the number of cases. A recent antigen testing drive found that all 78 persons examined at the Sannidhanam were negative for SARS-CoV-2. At the same time, only one of the 44 samples collected from Nilackal tested positive.

The TDB president attributed this “encouraging results” to the collective effort of the departments on pilgrimage duty. Over 360 officials on Sabarimala duty had tested positive for the infection till January 4.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 3:39:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/preparations-for-makaravilakku-begin/article33539486.ece

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