12 Russian Sabarimala pilgrims offer worship at Ayyappa temple

The team undertook the pilgrimage after observing austerity and abstinence for the required 41 days, a temple press release said. They were dressed in customary black dresses and chanted 'Saranam mantras' as they made darsan.

The team was led by 'Induchoodan' a Russian from St. Petersburg, who is an Ayurvedic doctor and teacher in Russia. He is visiting Sabarimala for the 15th time. Most of the other members of the team, which included businessmen and students, had made different number of visits to Sabarimala.

Two of them, one a little girl who came with her grandmother, were 'kanni ayaappanamaars', making the pilgrimage for the first time. They described making the trip as an incredible experience.

The team started the trip from Moscow and reached the Paanchaalipeeda Ashram in Idukki from where they tied their 'irumudikettu' and reached Sabarimala. The team said they made the trip only for the visit to Sabarimala and had no other programmes in the state before going back to Russia.

The release said TDB authortiies have decided to appoint more personnel at the 'Appam' packing section to avoid difficulties due to the increase in the number pilgrims.   The decision was taken at the review meeting of Devaswom Special Officers, presided over by Special Officer M. Satheesh Kumar, held at the Festival Control Office.

The rice grains donated by the devotees which have been piled up at the 'Mahakanikka' and the police aid post will be collected and moved to different centers. About 20,000 kilos of rice grains have been stocked now. More plates and glasses will be provided in the messes.

About 20,00,000 containers of 'Aravana' (prasadam) has been stocked. More numbers would be stocked to make sure devotees wont experience a shortage of Aravana. Special 'archana' counters have been started at the Mahakanikka Mandapam from today.

The new counters have been started to reduce the crowd rush at the archana counters at the 'thirunada'. Separate counters have been begun for tickets and prasadams.

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