The hill shrine of Sabarimala is all geared up to celebrate the Makaravilakku festival on Sunday. The Kerala government is leaving no stone unturned, especially after the severe flak it received from the Kerala High Court over the preparedness at the site.
The Idukki Collector, E Devadas has been quoted as saying, "We are arranging some other places also for devotees to gather like Panchalimedu and Parunthupara. They can see the Makarajyothi clearly from these places also. We are trying to disperse the crowd which used to gather only at Pulmedu to all these places. So that crowd will be manageable." [Read: Who's responsible for the Sabarimala tragedy?]
Considered a very auspicious time to visit the temple, the temple sees a large number of footfalls on a regular basis with the numbers multiplying during the festive season. Lakhs of pilgrims brave the odds and trek the forest route which is about 6 kms to see the Makarajyothi. With pilgrims from all over the country, they clamour to catch a glimpse of the divine light that appears opposite the hills of Ponnambalamedu.
To avoid any untoward incidents this time around, barricades have been installed at the edge of the cliffs as part of crowd management mechanism. Control rooms have also been set up by the police, health and fire force departments at Pulmedu. Street light have also been installed along the treacherous forest route to aid pilgrims who return after seeing the Makarajyothi.Another major reason for the tragedy last year was considered to be the haphazard parking of private vehicles.
The District Medical Officer, Idukki, Dr Alosius briefing about the preparation said, "After last year's tragedy we are more cautious. We are now providing 24 hour medical service to all Sabarimala pilgrims on top of Pulmedu."
The preparations are being put in place following the recommendations of the Justice Hariharan Nair commission that was involved in the investigation of the Pulmedu tragedy last year.