Non-Mallu devotees not cheering up Sabari vendors

Non-Mallu devotees not cheering up Sabari vendors

Devotees arrive to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala. PTI file photo

The natural calamities that ravaged Kerala five months back caused heavy losses to may vendors at Sabarimala pilgrimage centre in Kerala as their stocks were washed away by the flooded Pamba river. Their hopes to make up for the loss with the sales during this pilgrimage season suffered set back owing to the feeble sales during the season.

From food outlets to fancy shops, hundreds of shops used to mushroom at Sabarimala and nearby areas during the two-month long Sabarimala pilgrimage season. Rentals for space at some vantage points like banks of Pamba and Sannidhanam is in the range of Rs. 20 to 30 lakhs.

The number of pilgrims, especially Malayalis, were very low during this pilgrimage season subsequent to the row over the entry of women in the 10-50 age group. Though there was a considerable turnout of pilgrims from other states like Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, it did not bring many cheers to the Sabarimala vendors. Their simple logic is that it is the Malayali pilgrims who often shop for fancy items and food during the pilgrimage.

“From our experience over these years, pilgrims from other states are more interested in buying ‘Appam’ and ‘Aravana’, the prasadams offered at Sabarimala Ayyappa temple, in large quantities. It is often the Malayali pilgrims who are interested in spending on fancy items and eateries while returning after darshan,” said a vendor at Pamba.

Some vendors even pledged their properties to raise funds for resuming their flood-ravaged shops. But they have literally burned their fingers owing to the low turn out of devotees.