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PTI sabarimala Last Updated at 08-12-2018 21:15:54 IST India

After a lull, long queues, packed crowds back in Sabarimala

(Eds;updating with details on pilgrims,hundi collection)

Sabarimala, Dec 8 (PTI): After a 20-day lull since the

annual pilgrim season began, long queues and packed crowds are

back at the Lord Ayyappa Temple here, which had witnessed a

drastic dip in pilgrim arrivals in the initial weeks.

The lifting of restrictions imposed by police and ease in

tension that had prevailed at the shrine, following protests

against the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict,

permitting women of all age groups, have triggered high inflow

of devotees after the initial lull.

According to temple sources, over 85,126 pilgrims

visited the hill top temple on Friday alone, indicating a

steady increase in the footfalls.

While the head count was 79,306 on December 3, it was

61,037 on December 4 and 51,335 on December 5, as per the

figures.

Over 45,000 pilgrims had visited the Lord Ayyappa temple

on December 6, the anniversary of the Babari Masjid demolition

day, though there had been extra vigil and additional security

arrangements at the temple complex.

Unlike the previous years, the temple wore a deserted

look for many days after it opened for the over two-month-long

monthly pilgrim season on November 16.

The number of devotees, who had offered prayers at the

shrine, was just 28,717 on November 16, as per figures.

A temple release said nine lakh devotees had so far

worshipped at the shrine since it opened for the pilgrim

season.

It said that the Hundi collection and revenue from sale

of appam and Aravana prasadams had also gone up.

The devastation caused by the August floods had affected

the usual pre-season arrangements implemented by the

government at Nilackal, the base camp, and Pamba, the last

gateway to the hill temple.

The dearth of dormitory facilities, safe drinking water

and restrictions imposed on private vehicles have caused

difficulties for devotees and affected their usual inflow.

Besides this, the intense protests by devotees and right

wing groups against the LDF government's decision to implement

the September 28 apex court verdict on the entry of young

women had distanced pilgrims away from the forest temple,

located in the Western Ghats.

Prohibitory orders had been invoked in and around

Sabarimala by police following the violent protests.

The opposition Congress-led UDF and BJP had been on a war

path against the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government for the past

several weeks, demanding lifting of prohibitory orders.

Raising the same demand, three UDF MLAs have been staging

a satyagraha at the portals of the state Assembly, while BJP

state general secretary A N Radhakrishnan is on an indefinite

fast before the Secretariat since last week.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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