Sabarimala: Covid Treatment For Non Keralite Ayyappa Devotees Visiting Hill Shrine At Their Own Cost

Sabarimala: Covid Treatment For Non Keralite Ayyappa Devotees Visiting Hill Shrine At Their Own CostThe Sabarimala shrine. (Shankar/The India Today Group/Getty Images)
  • Kerala health department announced its health plan and facilities for the annual pilgrimage to the hill shrine of Sabarimala that starts on 16 November.

As the annual two-month pilgrimage to the hill shrine of Sabarimala begins this weekend, the Kerala government announced that people from outside the state will have to bear the cost of their treatment in case of a Covid infection, in either private or government hospitals as per their choice.

People from Kerala who are beneficiaries of the Karunya Arogya Suraksha Padhathi (KASP) will be provided free treatment if they contract the virus on their visit to the Ayyappa temple during this upcoming Mandala-Makaravilakku season starting 16 November.

As part of the plan announced by the health department, the state said that those above the poverty line and non-beneficiaries of KASP will be treated on a cost basis for non-Covid related ailments, while they can avail free treatment for Covid at both government as well as government referred private hospitals.

But outsiders will have to be beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) to obtain free treatment in Kerala. This comes in the wake of festivals and celebrations around Onam seeing a spike in Covid cases last month.

Cailing it a ‘robust ‘ health plan to conduct a ‘safe’ fest, Minister for Health K K Shailaja said the state will open dispensaries at Sannidhanam, Pampa, Nilakkal, Ayyapan Road and Erumeli, along with an emergency operation theatre at Sannidhanam. A 1,000 member team of health professionals are being deputed around the shrine along with 20 ambulances that will be stationed to handle medical emergencies.

Earlier, the state had announced that only those pilgrims who register themselves on the online portal will be granted permission capping the limit at 1,000 on weekdays and 2,000 pilgrims on weekends. A Covid negative certificate availed two days prior to the pilgrimage and a heath insurance card are mandatory, while bathing in the river Pamba and ghee abhishek at the shrine have been prohibited.

Meanwhile, the Kerala circle of the postal department in association with the Travancore Devaswom Board is offering devotees an opportunity to receive the prasad of the Ayyappa shrine by post. As per reports, the ‘Swamiprasadam’ kit can be booked for Rs 450 and will contain the Ariana, ghee, turmeric, vermillion, vibhuti and other offerings.

The kits can be booked at any post office with e-payment starting tomorrow (12 November) and will be dispatched from November 16 and delivered through speed post.


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