Sabarimala: It was another black January
14 for Sabarimala pilgrims with last night`s stampede tragedy
being the third in the history of the hill shrine.
The first tragedy shook the shrine on January 14,
1952, when it was gutted in a fire caused by explosion of
fireworks leaving 66 Ayyappa pilgrims dead. The present shrine
was rebuilt in place of the older one.
In 1998, 52 pilgrims died following a stampede at
Pampa, which also occurred on January 14 after `Makara Jyothi`
darshan. As had happened yesterday, there was huge rush on
that day also and most of the victims were from Andhra
Last night`s stampede that claimed 104 lives at
Vandiperiyar is the third major mishap connected with
Lakhs of pilgrims converge at the holy shrine to watch
the `Makara Jyothi`, a bright flame that flickers three times
on a remote hillside of Ponnambalamedu, every year and the
number of devotees keeps growing each pilgrimage season.
After the 1998 tragedy, the government had been taking
great care and scientific planning for crowd management. As a
result of this, the pilgrimage season had been largely
incident-free since then.
The current pilgrim season had gone on smoothly till
its final phase but for the shocking tragedy that happened