Kerala: Pilgrimage season at Sabarimala set to conclude today
Kerala: Pilgrimage season at Sabarimala set to conclude today

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Guruthi ritual at the Malikappuram temple will be performed on January 19 night, signalling the conclusion of a pilgrimage season that saw an unprecedented influx of pilgrims to Sabarimala.

According to a Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) official announcement, visitors to the hill temple on January 19 would only be admitted up until 10 p.m. No one will be permitted to enter the Malikappuram after the Guruthi rite, which is performed to appease Lord Ayyappa's followers. A member of the Kunnakkattu family from Ranni, which has been performing the puja for the previous three generations, will be in charge of the rite.

Even though the temple will open the following day at 5 a.m., darsan will only be permitted for the Pandalam royal family delegate, and the temple will close shortly after. The statement claimed that this will be followed by the traditional key-handling ceremony in front of the 18 holy stairs and a return trip for the holy jewellery delivered from the Pandalam palace.

The traditional trekking route from Erumely to the temple has been closed by the Forest department with only a few days left in the pilgrimage season. In contrast, the trail from Vandiperiyar via Pullumedu will stay available through the last day of the season. Estimates indicate that 4.66 lakh pilgrims travelled the Pullumedu route and 50,000 travelled the hiking way from Erumely.

The number of pilgrims visiting Sabarimala has significantly decreased since the Makaravilakku festival, and compared to the previous weeks, most of them are now from Kerala. For instance, just 66,736 reservations were made for darsan on Tuesday.

According to estimates, during the current season, which started in November last year, around 45 lakh pilgrims visited the shrine. In order to assure compliance with the pandemic measures during the preceding couple of years, the annual season had to be reduced.

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