Nellore : Sabarimala Covid curbs make Telugu devotees offer Irumudi at local temples

Ayyappa temple in Nellore city with 18 steps
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Ayyappa temple in Nellore city with 18 steps

Highlights

The corona pandemic has led to making changes in the tradition of offering Irumudi by Ayyappa devotees. As per the tradition Irumudi needs to be offered only at Sabarimala temple in Kerala

Nellore : The corona pandemic has led to making changes in the tradition of offering Irumudi by Ayyappa devotees. As per the tradition Irumudi needs to be offered only at Sabarimala temple in Kerala. For the first time, devotees from Telugu States are either offering it at local Ayyappa temples where there is a provision of 18-steps or temporarily following Siva Deeksha.

The Covid-19 pandemic had impacted 90 per cent of Telugu devotees from visiting the temple as the Sree Dharma Sastha Temple management imposed huge restrictions on the visits of the devotees to avoid spread of corona virus. This time they are not even allowing Ghee Abhishekam to the main deity as in the past. Devotees, who have booked online slots, will be only allowed to have darshan at Sabarimala till January.

Devotees, who booked online darshan tickets and undergo Covid test 24 hours before entry into the premises, are granted permission into the temple. They have restricted the number of devotees to 1,000 per day for people aged above 10 and below 60 years. Even though the temple had planned to increase the number to 2,000 devotees on Saturdays and Sundays, health officials of Kerala did not agree for it.

As a result, staunch Ayyappa devotees proposed to offer Irumudi at the local temples following the tradition of ascending 18 holy steps and conducting ghee abhishekam after observing 41-day vratham.

Their Guru Swamys also accepted the proposal given the conditions. The Travancore Devaswom Board started imposing restrictions on the devotees from the entry point to Sabarimala at Nilakkal where the devotees have to show their pre-booked online ticket, test indicating Covid status within 24 hours and the age proof.

"We used to visit the Sabarimala temple for the last two decades and due to the restrictions, we are planning to offer Irumudi at a local temple following the same tradition. Even senior Gurus have accepted it. Some others are switching over to Siva Deeksha which is on the similar lines," said devotee Pathri Srinivasa Murthy of Nellore.

Normally, Sabarimala temple doesn't allow devotees to step onto the holy 18 steps at the Sannidhanam without Irumudi, which consists of Munmudi, the front part which is meant for puja and naivedyam, coconuts filled with ghee for abhishekam and normal ones, rice, and other puja material. Pinmudi, the back part, contains food material to be used during the journey.

Many temples like Nellore, Dwarapudi in East Godavari, Koduru in Krishna district, Wyra in Khammam, Kukatpally in Hyderabad, and many others have 18 steps.

Temple authorities in Nellore also constructed 18 steps a couple of years ago. Devotees say all temples across the country are witnessing the same practice offering Irumudi at the local Ayyappa shrines.

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