Sabarimala Festival Latest News: With just a few days left for the Sabarimala festival to start, the Kerala government on Thursday said that only 1,000 devotees will be allowed to offer prayers each day at the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa from November 16 when the two-month long pilgrim season begins. This is being done keeping the coronavirus cases in mind. Also Read - Kerala Govt Decides to Bring Out Ordinance to Withdraw Amendment to Kerala Police Act

“During holidays, and on the ‘Makaravilakku’ day, more pilgrims may have to be allowed darshan,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here on Thursday. Also Read - Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan Puts Controversial State Police Act Amendment on Hold

As per the update from the state government, it would be mandatory for devotees planning to trek to the shrine to carry COVID-19 negative certificates and those deployed for duties at the temple will also have to produce them. Also Read - Kerala Police Act Amendment Against Freedom of Speech, Says Opposition; CM Defends Move

“As the temple is all set to open for the Mandala- Makaravillakuseason, the state government has made elaborate arrangements for the pilgrims in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

The chief minister also added that if pilgrims from other states tested positive, they would be given all facilities for undergoing treatment in Kerala.

However, if they wished to return to their respective states, necessary arrangements would also be made for them.

Notably, the Ayyappa temple had opened for devotees during the five day monthly pujas from October 17 after remaining shut for pilgrims for the past six months.

(With inputs from PTI)