Mobile phones banned around sanctum sanctorum of Lord Ayyappa temple

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 4 (PTI) Use of mobile phones has been banned around the area near the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, official sources said on Wednesday.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which administers the hill shrine, here on Wednesday in the backdrop of pictures of the highly secured sanctum sanctorum being circulated widely in the social media recently.

Mobile phones will not be allowed to be used beyond the 'pathinettam padi' (18 holy steps) and in 'Thiru muttam' (area in front of the main shrine) and the sanctum sanctorum region, board sources told PTI.

From the 'valliya nadapandal' (covered pathway leading to the holy stpes) devotees will have to switch off their mobiles.

Those found using the phones in violation of the ban for the first time would be warned and in case of repeat breach, their handsets would be seized and visuals deleted, they said.

The shrine, where the two month long annual 'Mandala- Makaravillaku' pilgrim season has begun since November 16, has been witnessing heavy turnout of devotees in the past few days.

Over seven lakh pilgrims have had darshan of Lord Ayyappa till Tuesday, according to officials. PTI UD VS VS