ECONOMYNEXT – The annual Sri Pada season when thousands of pilgrims climb Adam’s Peak each year begins today under strict guidelines to prevent it from becoming a super-spreader season for Covid 19.
Strict guidelines including social distancing will have to be maintained by the huge crowds that are expected to make the annual climb despite the pandemic, the Police Spokesman Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana said.
He said local health authorities would be monitoring the pilgrims and urged devotees to follow their instructions.
He added that there will be a heavy police presence and the pilgrims are expected to give details of their permanent addresses, names and other details if asked by patrolmen.
“Roadblocks and mobile patrols will be in operation and please provide genuine information if asked,” Rohana said.
Pilgrims are expected to gather despite a request from the Nuwara Eliya District Secretariat asking Sri Lankans not to do the pilgrimage this season due to Covid 19.
M B R Pushpakumara, the District Secretary in a letter sent to the Government Information Department pleaded with devotees to refrain from doing the climb.
“There are areas around Hatton and other nearby regions where there are Covid infected people whose communities are in isolation,” Pushpakumara, who is the Chairman of the Nuwara Eliya District Covid prevention committee said.
“Even though pilgrims may come here with permission and observe the health guidelines the danger of contracting the disease remains,” he said last week.
On the other side of the mountain ten Grama Sevaka divisions in Eheliyagoda and Godakawela were declared isolated regions
Sri Lankans of all faiths come to the holy mountain in the five month season that begins on the last Full-moon Poya day of the year, today December 29, and ends on the Vesak Poya in May.
Buddhists believe the footprint that appears on a slab of rock on top of the holy mountain is that of the Buddha, Hindus believe it is that of Shiva and Muslims and Christians that of Adam, the first human.
The authorities have limited public participation in major religious events after the Covid outbreak including the Kandy Esala Perehera which usually attracts around a million people during its ten days into Kandy town and the Nallur Kandasamy 20-day festival which also attracts hundreds of thousands. (Colombo, December 29, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana