Sabarimala: Pilgrims asked not to stay back at night

DGP Loknath Behara

Nilackal: Ayyappa pilgrims, who visit the Sabarimala atemple, will not be allowed to stay back at the ‘sannidhanam‘ at night after darshan, DGP Loknath Behara said Thursday.

Police presence in and around the hill shrine would be doubled this year compared to last year, he said. “Nobody will be allowed to stay at the sannidhanam (temple complex) after the temple closes at night, Behara told reporters after reviewing the security arrangements at Nilackal, the base camp.

Due to the protests witnessed in and around the shrine when it was opened in October and this month for the monthly pujas, it has been decided to impose “reasonable” restrictions, he said.

But all the pilgrims will have the opportunity to have darshan before they return, Behara said. The sanctum sanctorum will open at 5 pm Friday when two new melsanthis (chief priests) – M L Vasudevan Namboodiri (Ayyappa temple) and M N Narayanan Namboodiri (Malikapapuram) will assume charge.

Though devotees will be allowed inside the shrine from 5 pm to 10 pm on Friday, pujas and ‘Neyabishekams‘ (ghee offering) will be held only when the temple opens at 4 am on 17 November, the first day of Malayalam month of Vrischikom, according to a TDB release.