The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has relaxed the restriction to allow the devotees visiting Sabarimala to carry coconut in flight!
A senior Official of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Safety (BCAS) informed us that this relaxation is VALID ONLY UP THE END OF THE SABARIMALA SEASON DURING JANUARY 2023!
It is a decade-old tradition for a large number of devotees in lakhs from various states of the country and abroad to undertake a pilgrimage to Sabarimala to have Darshan of Lord Sri Ayyappan, especially during the Mandala Poojai and Makara Vilakku Poojai season.
The devotees undertake penance for undertaking this sacred pilgrimage and carry on their head a sacred package known as `Iru Mudi Kattu` on their heads during the pilgrimage and offer this to Lord Sri Ayyappan at Sabarimala! This sacred bag contains several offerings including ghee (refined butter) and coconut.
As such, for the facility of devotees from other states who undertake this pilgrimage flying to Sabarimala, have been allowed to carry coconut on the flight for a short period on a temporary basis!
In a notification released by BCAS, it is mentioned:
"Until 20th January when the Sabarimalai Lord Sri Ayyappan temple Mandala Poojai and Makara Vilakku Poojai conclude, the devotees who have undertaken the pilgrimage and visiting Sabarimala on a flight can carry coconut during the flight!"
Changes in Darshan Timings
As the number of devotees visiting Sabarimala Temple for Darshan of Lord Sri Ayyappan for the Mandala Poojai and Makara Vilakku Poojai has increased by a very large margin this year, the Temple Administration has revised the timings for Darshan of Lord Sri Ayyappan.
As per the prevailing arrangement, the Darshan timings were from 3.00 AM to 1.00 PM and from 4.00 PM to 12.00 midnight every day. However, as the number of devotees visiting has increased by a very large margin this year, an official of the Lord Sri Ayyappan temple administration informed that the Darshan in the afternoon session WILL COMMENCE FROM 3.00 PM INSTEAD OF 4.00 PM, THUS INCREASING THE DARSHAN TIME!
He further shared:
"With the temple corridors of the Lord Sri Ayyappan temple having opened on 16th November, until Monday (21st November) eveni9ng, OVER 3 LAKHS DEVOTEES HAD VISITED THE TEMPLE! ON MONDAY ALONE, THERE WERE MORE THAN 70000 DEVOTEES!
On Tuesday (Yesterday, 22nd November), 60000 devotees booked for Darshan ONLINE! As such, we had decideded to extend the Darshan timings by an hour by commencing the afternoon session at 3.00 PM instead of the regular 4.00 PM!"
The Devaswom Minister of the State Government of Kerala K, Radahakrishnn shared:
"During the last 2 years, due to the prevailing raging coronavirus pandemic, only 30000 devotees were permitted inside the temple for Darshan of Lord Sri Ayyappan. HOWEVER, DURING THIS PERIOD, NO RESTRICTIONS HAVE BEEN IMPOSED ON THE NUMBER OF DEVOTEES! SO, WE CAN EXPECT AN INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF DEVOTEES VISITING BY 40%-50%!"
The 41-day Mandala Poojai, which commenced on 17th November, will conclude on 27th December!
Subsequently, the Sabarimala temple corridors will be opened on 30th December for the Makara Vilakku pilgrimage! This Makara Vilakku pilgrimage will conclude on 14th January 2023.
After this, the temple corridors will be closed on 20th January!