1.5 mn prasadam cans, chopper service for Sabarimala devotees

November 15th, 2008 - 5:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Pamba (Kerala), Nov 15 (IANS) One and a half million tin cans of prasadam (holy offering), helicopter service for people who fall ill and oxygen parlours will be the highlights of this year’s Sabarimala pilgrimage season that begins Sunday, Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said here Saturday.Pamba is at the foothills of the temple town and the climb towards the temple begins from here.

Achuthanandan inaugurated the Pamba River Basin Authority at the meeting where eight ministers and top officials of 23 departments overseeing the festival season were present.

“Last season there were issues regarding the smooth supply of the prasadam on account of the shortage of tins. This time we have stocked 1.5 million tins and there will be no shortage. I assure that this time the pilgrimage would be a smooth affair,” he said.

Kerala’s famed Sabarimala temple is all set to receive nearly five million devotees during the two-month-long annual pilgrimage season that begins Sunday.

“Six hundred cleaning staff have been deployed to see that the temple area is clean. With regards to security, we have posted 20 percent more force than last year and it includes officials from the state police and the Rapid Action Force.

“Helicopter service for air lifting people who fall sick is also there for the first time,” he said.

Other facilities being made available for pilgrims include oxygen parlours and pre-paid bank coupons for holy offerings.

Although the temple dedicated to Hindu god Ayyappa receives devotees throughout the year, the pilgrimage season begins on the first day of the Hindu month of Vrischikam and ends on the first day of the month of Makaram - in the third week of January.

The temple, on top of a hill at an altitude of 914 metres, is four kilometres from Pamba town in Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala and is accessible only by foot. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) that runs the shrine has set up oxygen parlours en route for pilgrims who feel breathless.

The TDB has tied up with the Dhanalakshmi Bank to make the process of selling prasadam easier. Pilgrims can buy coupons from 182 bank branches across the state and exchange them for prasadam at the temple.

The Sabarimala temple bars the entry of women who have attained puberty but not reached menopause.

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