Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 14 (SocialNews.XYZ) All preparations are in place for the annual Sabarimala pilgrimage in Kerala that gets underway on Wednesday.
Though the temple's full season will begin when the temple priests arrive on Wednesday at 5 p.m., the pilgrims are allowed entry from Thursday 5 a.m.
According to the schedule, the first phase of the present season ends on December 27, to reopen on December 30 for the second phase. The religious festivities will conclude on January 14 - 'Makara Vilakku' - when a celestial light appears on the horizon thrice, soon after sunset.
With the celestial light, the hilltop reverberates with the chants of "Swamiye Ayyapa".
The sanctum sanctorum of the famed Sabarimala temple opens its door first for the temple priests on Wednesday evening, which signals the commencement of welcoming devotees, from
the wee hours of Thursday morning, which coincides with the first day of the Malayalam month of 'Vrischikam'.
Situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea level, Sabarimala temple is four kilometres uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district, which is around 100 kms from the capital city.
The temple, which bars the entry of women who have attained puberty, is accessible only on foot from Pamba.
Before setting off to the holy shrine, most of the pilgrims normally undertake an intense 41-day penance where they follow a strict vegetarian diet, wear a black dhoti and walk barefoot.
Every pilgrim carries with him a kit (alrumudi) which contains coconuts which are broken just before climbing the 18 steps). A pilgrim carries on 'alrumudi' on his head during the pilgrimage and without it, none is allowed to step onto the holy 18 steps at the Sannidhanam.
Notably, Covid pandemic played spoilsport in the past two years, with severe restrictions imposed and prior to it, the temple had turned into a battle ground with protests by Hindu groups since the September 28, 2018, Supreme Court verdict that allowed women of all ages to enter the temple that hitherto banned girls and women aged between 10 and 50.
And what followed was a massive resistance by the Hindu groups, while the Police tried to give security for some women who came to pray in the temple and finally, the police helped two women in the banned age group to pray in the temple.
This act saw the Pinarayi Vijayan government take a sound beating in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, which, as per many , was the reason for the Congress to win 19 out of the 20 Lok Sabha seats.
The case continues to be in the apex court and is before a seven-member bench.
By now, a few of the State Ministers entrusted with the overall conduct of the festival season are ensuring that things are in place as a full turn out, especially from the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana is expected.