THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA, October 6, 2021 (Deccan Chronicle): With the annual pilgrimage season in Sabarimala only a month away, the Kerala government on Wednesday said elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure a safe darshan for pilgrims in the wake of the Covid pandemic. All basic facilities for the pilgrimage, adhering to social distancing norms according to the government guidelines, are ready at the Lord Ayyappa temple and its premises, state Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan told the state assembly. “However, the government is yet to take a final decision on the number of pilgrims to be permitted for darshan and the relaxation in the existing guidelines,” the minister said.

Review meetings of the concerned departments and the Devaswom Board, the apex temple body which manages the shrine, had been held as part of the preparation for the impending pilgrim season. Besides the meetings to finalize the transportation facilities during the two-month-long pilgrim season, a meeting was also convened to expedite the steps to ensure the availability of enough drinking water, food and toilet facilities in the premises of the shrine and nearby centers connected to the pilgrimage, the minister added. This year’s annual pilgrimage season would begin on November 16. After the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, the government had imposed strict restrictions for pilgrims to trek the holy Sabarimala and offer worship there.