Tirupati has answer to Sabari woes

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Expert proposes one-time darshan in Sabarimala similar to Guruvayur and Tirupati systems PROF S. SITARAMAN SUGGESTS On no count will a devotee on his way back enter the forward path to Sannidhanam.

With the season for Sabarimala pilgrimage approaching, about 50 million devotees from all over India are set to descend on the hill shrine. The number of pilgrims is increasing year after year and the pressure on the Periyar Tiger Reserve where the shrine is located, is beyond its threshold limit now.

Restricting the number of devotees visiting the shrine would be conflicting with the faith of millions and what calls for is the effective management of the numbers, keeping the conservation of the tiger reserve and the forest in mind.

Currently, devotees stand in serpentine queues for up to 24 hours to get the Lord's darshan during rush hours. Such a long wait adds to a multifold crowd density at Sannidhanam. So what would be an ideal situation at Sabarimala? How could the crowd be better managed to allow a smooth flow for darshan this time and also in future?

At present, devotees enter Sabarimala and Sannidhanam through multiple routes and after climbing the holy Pathinettampadi they move through a fly over, have darshan with their irumudi and proceed to their stay at the temple site.

Then the devotees come again and again over the flyover for repeated darshans, thereby increasing the crowd density.

Further, they break and transfer the abhishekam ghee, stand in a queue again to get the same ghee back as prasadam.

Since they get repeated darshans, many stay for two days or more. On festive occasions, this goes up. For effective crowd management, environmental research scientist Prof S. Sitaraman has now come up with a proposal, in which a new system for Sabarimala darshan, similar to Guruvayur and Tirupati temples with onetime darshan with other supporting measures, is suggested. According to this plan, the basic hubs for Sabarimala darshan have to be Pampa and Nilakkal (currently utilized mainly as parking areas).

“Devotees after crossing Pampa should proceed as in a one way to reach Marakkoottam and Saramkuthi and Nadapanthal. From Nadapanthal the devotees with their irumudi will have to proceed in a queue to the Pathinettampadi/Sannidhanam.

And from this point devotees will take a straight/right turn to the sanctum sanctorum and have darshan of Lord Ayyappa. (Similar to the system in Tirupati /Guruvayur)“, says Prof Sitaraman.

According to the plan, further to darshan and kanikka, the devotees proceed left to have darshan of Lord Kannimoola Ganapathy. From here they need to go left to reach an open terrace (to be built) having sufficient space. Here the devotees will take out the mudra and other offering from their irumudi.

“On one side of the terrace, temple authorities are to provide sufficient number of counters with experts, who shall break the mudra, hand over the ghee and receipts for offerings/prasdams like appam, aravana etc. One half of the coconut would be handed over to the devotee and other half will be conveyed to the holy Ganapathy Kundam Agni through automated means like conveyors“, says Prof Sitaraman.

The devotee/guruswamy along with others can now proceed to the stainless steel tank (to be provided) at the other end of the terrace and pour the ghee for abhishekam with all devotion. The ghee tank to be maintained with utmost care should have controlled heating arrangements so that ghee can be pumped to the storage near Sreekovil.

“The priests in the Sreekovil should conduct abhishekams continuously and after this the ghee would flow through a pipeline to the prasadam delivery counters in the exit route. The merchandise of aravana/appam also could be organised here. Devotees after darshan of satellite temples like Malikappuram etc can proceed back to Pampa after collecting prasadam, ghee, etc. On no count will a devotee on his way back enter the forward path to Sannidhanam“, says Prof Sitaraman.

He suggested that on peak days like Makaravilakku, only preregistered devotees should be allowed. This can be done by online registration and computers shall select a predetermined number taking into account the converging capacity at Sannidhanam.

Each of them shall carry the permit so issued. The entry of pilgrims through Pullumedu, in the Vandiperiyar route and other pocket road entries are to be closed. This system will keep the area serene and less contaminated /polluted and there will be lesser pressure on sanitation as well.

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