Covid Guidelines issued ahead of Sabarimala festival

Covid-19 guidelines issued ahead of Sabarimala pilgrimage

The Kerala Health Department has issued COVID-19 guidelines for Sabarimala pilgrimage in the backdrop of the pandemic. Devotees are to mandatorily register themselves with the Kerala state police virtual portal and upload a certificate testing negative for the coronavirus, obtained 48 hours before registration at the center in Nilakkal. Registration will be done on a first come, first served basis and upon hitting the cut off number, it will be closed. The pilgrims should ensure social distancing while trekking up and down the hill. Devotees can enter the temple only via two routes – Erumeli and Vadaderrikara. Only 1000 pilgrims will be allowed to have darshan on weekdays and 2000 on weekends. The cost of COVID-19 tests will be borne by the devotees themselves. Further, no children below the age of 10 or senior citizens above 60 will be allowed entry into the temple. All pilgrims will be instructed to carry the Ayushman Bharat card with them. Pilgrims should wash their hands at regular intervals, should wear face masks and should have sanitizers with them during the journey. People who have been cured of Covid 19 recently and those with fever, cough along with other Covid symptoms will be discouraged from seeking darshan. Pilgrims can get Covid certificates through government or authorised private labs on the way to Sabarimala.

Access to Pampa river is restricted and devotees will not be permitted to take a dip in the river, after taking into consideration the COVID-19 cases in the state. Ghee Abhishekam is also banned. Further, halting in the night at the Pampa, Sannidhanam and the Ganapathi temple will also be prohibited. Officials in each district are directed to identify at least 15 Guru Swamys in their respective districts and hold a meeting with them to create an awareness about Covid guidelines among Ayyappa devotees. They are also asked to erect boards displaying the guidelines at all the railway stations. The Transport Commissioner has been asked to issue necessary instructions to the travel agencies in this regard.

The chances of exertional dysponea, is high in Covid-19 recovered patients while trekking. Hence all the pilgrims are advised to undergo a graded exercise program and a pulmonary rehabilitation program spread over weeks to ensure their physical fitness before they embark on the Sabarimala trek. Asymptomatic pilgrims are also asked to take the rehabilitation program before they visit the shrine. Lastly, all drivers, cleaners and cooks accompanying the pilgrims are also advised to follow the guidelines.