Amid the rising number of cases of Coronavirus in India, Kerala government has directed the Travancore Devaswom Board and Pathanamthitta district administration to restrict the entry of pilgrims in the Sabarimala Ayyapa Temple for the 10-day annual 'Sabarimala Utsavam' which commences on March 29.
The government has also restricted the entry of pilgrims for the 'Ararat Ceremony' on April 8 at Pampa. The restriction by the government comes as an attempt to avoid mass gatherings to curtail the spread of the virus. Kerala is the second-worst affected state in India, with 26 COVID-19 positive cases being reported already.
India's richest shrine and one of the most crowded temples -Tirupati, on Thursday, had also decided to close the shrine indefinitely. Asking everyone to leave Tirumala by 6 PM on Thursday, the Tirumala Tirupati Devaswom Board had issued a notice stating that the temple will be closed for devotees indefinitely. The Board stated that priests will be continuing with regular pujas. According to the Ministry of Health, over 200 positive cases and 4 deaths have been reported in the country so far.
Apart from Tirupati and Sabarimala, famous shrines like - Shirdi, Siddivinyak, Belur Math, Vaishno Devi, Amarnath, Mahalakshmi etc have been shut. Several other religious organisations too have postponed all events till March 31. Most state leaders have asked all churches, mosques, gurudwaras, temples and other religious shrines to be shut for the time being - to avoid public gatherings.
In a bid to contain the spread of novel Coronavirus, the Kerala government has launched a massive handwashing campaign named 'Break the Chain'. Under the 'Break the Chain' campaign, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government has installed several water taps at public spots across the State such as at the entry and exit gates of railway stations, bus stops and other areas of mass footfall with hand wash bottles. The awareness campaign is also actively encouraging people to use hand sanitizer when they are outdoors. Sanitisers amidst other hygiene products have also been made available in all offices.