Ahead of the 'Makaravilakku' festival on January 14, the Pathanamthitta district administration on Wednesday gave details of the extensive preparations made by it for crowd control and ensuring the safety of the thousands of devotees who are expected to turn up at the Lord Ayyappa shrine in Sabarimala on the occasion.
On January 14, devotees would be allowed to enter Sabarimala Sannidhanam in Pathanamthitta district only till noon and the 'Makarasamkrama' puja will be held on the same day at 8.45 PM.
The devotees would be allowed to enter the hilltop shrine only from the next day onwards, a release issued by the Pathanamthitta district administration said.
The extensive measures put in place to ensure a smooth pilgrimage for the devotees include determining the number of people who can stay at each point, setting up barricades, strengthening health facilities, and providing drinking water and refreshments to the pilgrims, the release said.
Cooking and burning fires are strictly prohibited in Sannidhanam and carrying gas cylinders and stoves on tractors is also prohibited, it said.
The district administration of Idukki is also putting in place extensive security arrangements at Pullumedu, Panchalimedu, and Parunthumpara areas from where devotees can see the Makarajyoti that would be lit at Ponnambalamedu.
Clearing obstructions on roads, setting up barricades and lights, putting in place water tanks at 14 points, and deploying a 1,400-strong police force, are some of the measures taken by the Idukki district administration, according to a release issued by it.
The forest department will also be assisting to make the pilgrimage safe for devotees by deploying rapid response teams and elephant squads in areas where disturbances due to wildlife are expected, the release said.
The Lord Ayyappa shrine was reopened for the 'Makaravilakku' festival on December 30, 2022, after it was closed after the 41-day long first leg of the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season on December 27 last year.
After the Makaravilakku ritual is held on January 14, the shrine would be closed on January 20, marking the end of the pilgrimage season.
Over 30 lakh devotees reached the shrine on a hill during the 41-day-long season.
The TDB (Travancore Devaswom Board), which is in charge of the temple administration, had said in December that the shrine got Rs 222.98 crore as revenue during the first 39 days of the pilgrimage season.