Lakhs of devotees visit the hill shrine of Sabarimala temple every year and majority of them carry ‘Irumudi Kettu’ (the sacred bag containing offerings, including coconut filled with ghee, to the Lord). Hence, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security stated that the permission has been given for the ongoing Sabarimala season that is to end in late January. Now, pilgrims visiting Sabarimala temple in Kerala can carry coconuts in cabin baggage in flights, with aviation security regulator BCAS relaxing the norms for a limited period. Under current norms, coconuts are not permitted in cabin baggage on the grounds that they are flammable.
The official from BCAS said that additional security measures and checks have been put in place in this regard. “Coconuts, in the view of inconvenience to the pilgrims to Shri Sabarimala shall be allowed in cabin (carry-on) baggage after the X-ray, ETD (Explosive Trace Detector), and physical check by Aviation Security Group (ASG) till the duration of Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage i.e. up to 20 Jan 2023,” BCAS said in a circular on Monday.
The Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala opened for the two-month-long pilgrimage season on November 16. The annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season started on November 17 and will end on January 20. Generally, those undertaking the pilgrimage to Sabarimala prepare and pack ‘Irumudi Kettu’ as part of the ‘Kettunirakal’ ritual.
During the ritual, ghee is filled inside a coconut, which is then kept in the bag along with other offerings. The bag would also have a few ordinary coconuts to be broken at various holy spots during the pilgrimage, according to the Sabarimala temple website.
Only those pilgrims who carry the ‘Irumudi Kettu’ on their heads are allowed to climb the 18 sacred steps to reach the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Those not carrying it have to take a different passage to reach the sanctum sanctorum.
The 41-day Mandala puja festival will conclude on December 27. The temple will be opened again on December 30 for the Makaravilakku pilgrimage on January 14 and then the shrine will be closed on January 20.
(With inputs from PTI)