Seven days after the annual pilgrim season took off at Sabarimala, the hill shrine on Saturday witnessed the highest daily footfall with 2,000 pilgrims visiting the temple.
Unlike the previous days, the Valiya nadapandal leading to the temple witnessed a moderate rush during the morning hours. Except on weekends, the daily number of pilgrims to the temple has been limited to 1,000.
In view of the COVID-19 situation, as many as 351 markings were made at the location to ensure physical distancing between the devotees. Arrangements are also in place for the devotees to help them clean their legs and hands.
The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) is distributing free meals to the pilgrims at Sannidhanam, Pampa and Nilackal. Seats for devotees have been arranged in line with the COVID-19 protocol while the food is served in disinfected plates.
Food is served at Sannidhanam from 5.30 a.m. till 9 p.m. when the temple closes for the day. The Annadana Mandapam, near Malikappuram, in Sannidhanam currently employs 40 people, including Devaswom staff and temporary staff, for the preparation and distribution of food.
Food distribution at Pampa begins by 7 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. There are currently 20 people on board, including Devaswom staff and temporary staff, for cooking and serving food.
At Nilackal, a team of 15 people led by the TDB Administrative Officer G. Binu has been entrusted to prepare and distribute food.
Meanwhile, the Pathanamthitta District Medical Office has erected boards and banners in six different languages at different locations, including the trekking route, to create awareness on COVID-19 guidelines and other health emergencies. This is in addition to the announcements at Pampa, Nilackal and Sannidhanam in various languages and the social media campaign.