Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 6: While the number of pilgrims visiting the famed Sabarimala temple this season has increased by about 50 lakh this season, collections have only marginally gone up as compared to previous years. But the one good thing is that devotees have not dumped the spiked Rs 500 and 1,000 notes as donations, said a temple official.
The two-month-long peak festival season runs from the middle of November till the middle of January. Till January 4, about 4.5 crore pilgrims visited the shrine, up from four crore in the previous season.
The temple is run by the Travancore Devasom Board (TDB) that is headquartered in the state capital, and its president, Prayar Gopalakrishnan, told the media on Friday that he was happy that devotees have not dumped the spiked currencies in donation boxes.
"This shows the devotees' love and admiration for Lord Ayyappan. The total collection from the start of the season touched Rs 18.33 crore from Rs 17.83 crore the previous season. This includes sales of appam and aravana, and the cash that comes into the box," said Gopalakrishnan, a senior Congress leader and a former legislator.
Gopalakrishnan said the cash received as offerings was Rs 6.67 crore and the last season it was Rs 6.65 crore.
"During counting, we found very few spiked currencies and got numerous new currencies of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000. We are yet to count the coins and expect it would touch Rs 1.5 crore," said the TDB president.
He also pointed out that all arrangements were in place for the January 14 event of the sighting of the celestial light that will appear on the horizon in the evening.
"We expect a massive crowd that day and have made special parking arrangements for 10,000 vehicles. The police are also doing their job of making all the security arrangements," said Gopalakrishnan.
Situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above the sea level, Sabarimala temple is four kilometres uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district, around 100 km from here. The temple, which bars the entry of women who have attained puberty, is accessible only on foot from Pamba.