At least 17 Sabarimala pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh were injured, two of them seriously, in a “minor stampede” at the famous hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa on Sunday evening, which witnessed heavy rush of devotees, officials said.
Due to the heavy rush, a rope barricade between ‘Sannidhanam’ and ‘Mallikapura’ snapped and the pilgrims, who were leaning on it fell on each other, Pathnamthitta District Collector R Girija said.
The injured were initially taken to the Sannidhanam hospital of which two seriously injured were shifted to Kottayam medical college hospital and three others to Pamba hospital, she said.
The two grievously injured pilgrims have suffered head and rib injuries but they are conscious, she said.
There was a heavy rush of pilgrims on Sunday, the penultimate day before the culmination of 41-day ‘mandala pooja’.
The mishap occurred just as the holy ‘Thanga Angi’ procession carrying the ornaments that is to be adorned on Lord Ayyappa on Mandala pooja on Monday had reached the temple on Sunday evening.
The procession starts from Aranmula Sree Parthasarthy temple, four days prior to the Mandala pooja.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said there was heavy rush of pilgrims at the shrine when the ‘thanga angi’ procession arrived.
He was at the temple shortly before the stampede and had left the shrine after the ‘deeparadhana’ (evening prayers) with the Thanga Angi.
The minister said he was on his way to the hospital.
He later said the situation has been brought under control.
Police are restricting the movement of pilgrims from downhill Pamba to Sannidhanam because of the heavy rush.