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First Ritual Performed at Sabarimala Amid Covid Rules as Temple Reopens; Here are Conditions for Darshan

Devotees arrive at Kerala's Sabarimala temple on Saturday for darshan as the shrine reopened post second wave of Covid-19.

Devotees arrive at Kerala's Sabarimala temple on Saturday for darshan as the shrine reopened post second wave of Covid-19.

After Neyyabhishekam, Kalashabhishekam ritual will take place at 11 am on Saturday and Padipooja will be carried out by 7 pm at Kerala's Sabarimala temple.

Neyyabhishekam, the first ritual that pilgrims perform upon reaching Sabarimala temple, began from 7 am on Saturday. The tradition of offering ghee to the idol of Lord Ayyappa was performed a day after the temple in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district opened for the monthly rituals during the Malayalam month of Karkadakam.

After Neyyabhishekam, Kalashabhishekam ritual will take place at 11 am and Padipooja will be carried out by 7 pm. This is the first time after the second wave of Covid that the pilgrims are allowed entry into the temple.

Head priest VK Jayaraj Potti opened the shrine in the presence of Tantri Kandaru Mahesh Mohanaru on Friday evening at 5 pm.

Plans to Visit Sabarimala? Here’s What You Need to Do

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• Only 5,000 people who booked via virtual queue system will be allowed every day. Those who have taken both doses Covid-19 vaccine can visit the shrine for darshan, but with complete Covid vaccination certificate.

• Those devotees who have not taken both doses must produce RT-PCR negative certificate obtained within 48 hours. Facilities have been arranged at Nilakkal to conduct RT-PCR test for those who could not undergo Covid test and for those whose certificate expired.

• If the pilgrims test positive at the facility, they will be shifted to Perunadu Covid First Line Treatment Center (CFLTC).

The Controversy That Hit Sabarimala Temple

In 2019, the Lord Ayyappa shrine hit the headlines almost on a daily basis as women fought to win the right to enter the temple. Women of menstruating age were barred from participating in religious rituals, as many regard women to be “unclean" during that period. Sabarimala had a blanket ban on all women between the ages of 10 and 50.

A five-judge bench of Supreme Court in 2019, however, ruled that keeping women out of the shrine was discriminatory, triggering massive protests in Kerala. According to reports, women trying to enter the temple after the verdict were attacked by mobs blocking the way. Many checked vehicles heading towards the temple to see if any women of menstruating age were trying to enter.

Some believe that doing away with temple’s historical ban on women was against the wishes of the deity, Lord Ayappa, himself. A report in BBC quoted Hindu devotees as saying that the ban on women entering Sabarimala is not about menstruation alone - it is also in keeping with the wish of the deity who is believed to have laid down clear rules about the pilgrimage to seek his blessings.

Worrisome Covid Situation in Kerala

Even as the national numbers are on a steady decline, Kerala registered over 15,637 fresh cases on Wednesday — its highest single-day rise in over a month. When infections started declining rapidly all across the country, Kerala was the only state to consistently report over 10,000 daily cases.

Kerala’s contribution to India’s caseload has risen significantly with most other states now returning to pre-second wave numbers. From making up just over 9% of the total cases during the second wave peak in early May, Kerala now accounts for nearly 33% of infections reported in the last seven days, a report in Times of India stated.

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first published:July 17, 2021, 08:07 IST