Works in progress for annual pilgrimage season at Sabarimala

With just around 45 days left for the Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) has kick-started preparations for the annual pilgrim season at Sabarimala.

According to TDB officials, tenders for the purchase of raw materials for the preparation of offerings have been issued, while maintenance works on buildings and toilet blocks have also commenced. The auctioning of stalls at Pampa and the Sannidhanam is slated to begin this week.

Last week, a Fire and Rescue Services delegation, led by District Fire Officer Harikumar, inspected the pilgrimage path from Nilackal to the Sannidhanam to plan for the safety of devotees. The team is slated to submit its findings and recommendations to the Pathanamthitta District Collector and the Director General, Kerala Fire And Rescue Services.

Review meetings

“The preparations will take a final shape after the review meetings to be convened by the Devaswom Minister on October 4, followed by an online meeting by the Chief Minister three days later,” said N. Vasu, president, TDB.

A final decision on the number of pilgrims to be permitted on a daily basis will be made after consultations with the Health Department.

“Considering the perceived improvement in the overall COVID-19 situation, we have sought more relaxations. Our concerns regarding the underutilisation of online slots have been under the consideration of the High Court,'' he added.

Fast running out of reserves, the cash-strapped TDB has approached the government, seeking a financial assistance of ₹100 crore to prepare for the festival season. As per estimates, the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 are having a drastic effect on the revenue source of the TDB, with the board suffering a loss of about ₹600 crore since March 2020.

The average daily expenditure on Sabarimala during the season is estimated to be over ₹30 lakh, while the income from the temple dropped to ₹21 crore during the last pilgrimage season as against ₹270 crore the previous year.

Water supply

Meanwhile, the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) has initiated steps to transport water to the tank with a capacity of 65.75 lakh litres at Nilackal. The distribution of water to devotees at Pampa and the Sannidhanam will be carried out through another plant at Thriveni.

The selection of the new Melsanthis for the Sabarimala and Malikappuram temples will take place on October 17, while the annual pilgrim season will begin a month later.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 2:59:29 AM |

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