Lord Ayappa devotees told to not visit Kerala’s Sabarimala temple amid rainfall, floods
The Travancore Devaswom Board has urged devotees not to visit the Sabarimala temple, which had only just reopened its doors for the ‘Thula Masam’ poojas on Saturday.
Authorities in Kerala have urged devotees of Lord Ayyappa to refrain from visiting the Sabarimala temple in the Pathanamthitta district on Sunday and Monday as heavy rainfall pounded the state and as many as 18 people lost their lives to rain-related incidents.
The Travancore Devaswom Board has urged devotees not to visit the Sabarimala temple, which had only just reopened its doors for the ‘Thula Masam’ poojas on Saturday, as the Pathanamthitta district witnessed heavy rain and the subsequent rise in the water level to dangerous extents in the Pamba river.
With the shrine situated upon a hilltop amid mountains and dense forests, it will expectedly be difficult for devotees to climb the Sabarimala hill in view of the intense rainfall and fear of frequent landslides.
Four people have died in landslides in Koottickal in Kottayam and Kokkayar in the Idduki district of Kerala. According to Kerala minister VN Vasavan, who is camping in Kottayam, the bodies of three people, all of who perished in the landslide in Koottickal, have been found so far. Meanwhile, state officials have advised people against visiting tourist spots and going near rivers and other water bodies; roads were reported to have been damaged due to the rains in several districts while severe waterlogging has made life miserable for citizens in others.
According to the latest updates, personnel of the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and the Indian Navy are currently on their way to the hilly villages where an overflowing river has swept through houses, displacing and isolating many. The Southern Naval Command of the Indian Navy also said that it is “fully ready” to assist the local administration in rescue operations.
Sabarimala temple reopening guidelines, issued earlier this week, noted that devotees could enter the shrine from October 17 to October 21 (Sunday-Thursday), although entry was only to be permitted through virtual queue booking and conditional upon negative RT-PCR coronavirus disease (Covid-19) reports. The temple will reopen again for the Atta Chithira pooja on November 2 and will be closed the next day.
The Sabarimala temple complex, a venerable hill shrine for millions of Lord Ayappa devotees, is located inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve at Perinad village in the Pathanamthitta district. It is also considered one of the largest annual pilgrimage sites in the world, with an estimated 40 to 50 million devotees visiting every year.