The Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala opened here on Friday for the five-day monthly puja for the Malayalam month of Kumbham.
Under the guidance of the Tantri, the Melsanthi opened the sanctum sanctorum of the temple at 5 p.m. This was followed by the opening of the various Upadevatha temples and the lighting of the ‘aazhi’ near the 18 holy steps.
The pilgrims will be permitted entry when the temple opens on Saturday morning. In view of the COVID-19 situation, only 5,000 devotees who have booked slots through the virtual queue will be allowed darshan on a daily basis.
According to the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), only those producing COVID-19 negative certificates after undergoing the RT-PCR / RT Lamp or Express NAT test within 48 hours will be permitted entry into the temple. The authorities have also set up an RT lamp testing lab at Nilackal where the devotees may undergo the test.
The cost of testing is fixed at ₹1,150, while the test result will be provided after an hour.
The entry of pilgrims will be regulated in strict compliance to the COVID-19 protocol. The temple will close at 9 p.m on February 17.