Sabarimala:Thousands return without Darsan

published on December 9, 2007

Lakhs of devotees throng Sabarimala

Pioneer News Service | Pathanamthitta

Heavy rush of pilgrims was witnessed at the Sabarimala temple on Sunday for the second consecutive day. Morning reports from the hill shrine said that several devotees, who had lined up in the queues since Saturday morning, were not been able to have darshan at the Lord Ayyappa temple till 7.00 am Sunday.

Many devotees who had left base camp at Pamba on Saturday night had not been able to reach the Sannidhanam even till early morning as they were trapped at marakkkoottam, Sabari Peetham or Saramkuthy, unable to move further because of the heavy rush. Reports said the police personnel on duty at Sannidhanam had not been able to ease the density of the crowds of pilgrims. Officials said that the hill shrine was witnessing the heaviest rush of the season for the past two days. Devotees said that the situation had been complicated with the authorities’ lack of ability to take timely action. Several Ayyappa pilgrims suffered serious injuries when the crowds swelled at Sannidhanam on Saturday, and police personnel had been working laboriously to avoid the repetition of any such incident. Long queues were seen right in the early morning on Sunday beyond the Nadappanthal, the corridor that leads to the holy eighteen steps.

Pilgrims were seen showing signs of boredom, impatience due to inability to move around and irritation arising out of the police personnel’s regulations. Devotees complained that police and Devaswom personnel behaved quite irresponsibly. But police officers said that the personnel on duty did not even have the occasion to get the very necessary breaks due to the unending flow of devotees.

Pilgrims said the regulations being implemented by the new Travancore Devaswom Board were contributing to the confusion and rush at Sannidhanam. The board had prohibited Neyyabhishekam by the aides of the Tnathri and Melshanti and this also increased the delay in clearing the pilgrims off the counters. Devotees complained that they could not get their Neyyabhishekam performed even after standing in queue for more than 12 hours.

The new board has also stipulated that tokens were necessary to meet the Tanthri and Melshanthi and this regulation was causing heavy rush in front of the retiring rooms of the priests at Sannidhanam, and this was also causing block in the movement of pilgrims.

The regulations in the distribution of Aravana, the chief Prasadam of the Lord Ayyappa temple, were the main factor behind the blockage of devotees at Sannidhanam, pilgrims said. Even after the regulation that one pilgrim would get only two cans of Aravana, the pace of distribution had not picked up. As shortage of Aravana continued, pilgrims had to stand in queues for several long hours. Even then, several pilgrims were seen returning disappointed at not being able to get even a single container of Aravana.

Though the Devasom Board had informed that Aravana manufacture and distribution would be regularised by Saturday evening no perceptible progress was seen in the distribution. Sources said on Sunday morning that the manufacture of the prasadam could pick up as 60,000 fresh containers had reached Sannidhanam and 120,000 at Pamba, the speed of distribution had not picked up.

Meanwhile, there were reports about sanitation problems at Pamba and elsewhere as the flow of devotees increased. Sources in the cleaning wing said they would need more personnel to operate in the changed circumstances.

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