The famous Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in Kerala will open today on March 14 for the five-day monthly pooja during the Malayalam month of Meenam and for the annual 10-day Uthram festival. Located at Sabarimala hill inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Perinad Village, Pathanamthitta district, it is one of the largest annual pilgrimage sites in the world with close to 50 million devotees visiting every year.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kerala High Court has ordered that only 10,000 devotees will be allowed darshan during Meenam. The entry of devotees will begin from tomorrow March 15 morning and they will have to attain an online booking for the same.
The temple dedicated to a Hindu Brahmachari (Celibate) deity Ayyappan also known as Dharma Shasta, has been in news over the years for no entry of women inside the temple premise.
Pooja Timings and Guidelines
According to the Travancore Devaswom Board, Melsanthi VK Jayaraj Potti will open the sreekovil or the sanctum sanctorum under the guidance of Thanthri Kandararu Rajeevaru at 5 pm today. Various upadevatha temples on its premises will also be unlocked. However, no rituals or pooja will be performed today and devotees will be allowed entry from tomorrow morning.
To follow COVID-19 protocols, only devotees who have booked slots through the virtual queue will be allowed darshan. At present, 5000 devotees are allowed daily for darshan through the virtual queue. The booking is done through the website handled by Kerala Police – https://sabarimalaonline.org/#/login.
Devotees will have to produce a COVID negative RT-PCR report obtained within the last 48 hours. COVID testing facilities will be arranged at Nilakkal and the reports will be released within one hour.
Special rituals will be performed on all four days from March 15. The annual Uthram festival will begin on March 19 with the Kodiyettu ceremony, which will be performed between 7:20 am and 8:00 am. The temple will close after the Arattu on March 28.
The temple will reopen for the Vishu festival on April 10 evening and will close on April 18.