No place to rest for Sabarimala pilgrims

The Kerala High Court has directed that the Devaswom Board must make arrangements before November 28 for housing devotees who come to the hill shrine of Sabarimala to stay a night here to see Makaravilakku, but the board has ignored the directive.
Consequently, hundreds of thousands of devotees have to run from pillar to post in search of a decent place to sleep or take rest. The board has been demolishing illegal shelters called viripanthals put up by devotees at Pandithavalam, but it has put up nothing in their place. Swami Nathan, a devotee from Andhra Pradesh said that the pilgrims are left in the lurch. “This is cruel and irresponsible of the authorities.”

The old dwellings are only partially demolished and are being used as toilets by pilgrims who sleep on the ground, and on the steps of the Sannidhanam. “It is sad to see the state of pilgrims who came from faraway places and are tired after standing in the long queue. The board should have had an alternative arrangement in place before demolishing the existing structures hastily, leaving the devotees high and dry,” said Suresh Kottarakkara, secretary of the Human Rights Association. 

 Work on improving basic amenities and infrastructure at the shrine ground to a halt after the announcement of the Sabarimala master plan-which, incidentally, is still on the design board. The tussle between forest authorities and Devaswom officials over land rights is holding up the master plan. Devaswom authorities admit that there will be no improvement in the situation this season. “We don’t think that we can make much difference as it is too late to make a move. The heavy rush of the devotees also thwarted our plans,” said Mr Satish Kumar, Devaswom executive officer.


۩ Ayyappa DevoteeZ ۩

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