The Kerala government on Thursday declared the premises of Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala and its nearby areas as ”liquor and drug-free zone” as the annual two-month-long Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival is just days away.
The annual festival, which used to attract millions of devotees from and outside the country to the hill shrine, begins on November 17 and concludes on January 15, 2023.
Besides the ”Sannidhanam” (temple complex), Pamba, Triveni, Marakoottam, Sabari Peedam and so on, several areas in Perinadu and Kollamula villages in Ranni taluk here were declared as the liquor and drug-free zones, official sources here said.
An order has been issued banning the consumption and sale of alcohol, drugs and tobacco products in these areas from November 14 to January 22, 2023, they said.
Pilgrims, vendors and all other people entering Sabarimala, Pamba, Nilakkal and adjoining areas should be cautious in this regard, they said.
Multilingual warning boards have been installed in various locations about the prohibition of alcohol and other intoxicants.
Another government notification has been issued opening temporary range offices at Sannidhanam, Nilakkal and Pamba in connection with the annual festival.
Joint raids of police, excise and forest officials are being carried out for the strict implementation of the ban.
An excise control room based in Pamba would start functioning from November 14 under the aegis of Assistant Excise Commissioner, an official statement said.