Poonkavanam or the Divine Grove, as the forest around Sabarimala Shrine is known, is seat pristine glory of Nature and spiritual purity. But not many pilgrims are responding positively to this, it seems.

After every season, garbage piles heap up as pilgrims dump refuse, mostly plastic, in and around the temple and en route. The core problem during the pilgrimage season is the massive rate of environmental pollution. The dumping of plastic wastes has also resulted in death of the animals in the forests.

This led to the launch of a massive campaign to spread awareness of cleanliness among pilgrims, called Punyam Poonkavanam. The movement is into its fourth year since inception in 2011 and gaining momentum year after year. The movement has received wide accolade from various quarters and prominent personalities from different fields have participated with the movement in its effort to keep Sabarimala dirt free. The Honourable High Court has lauded the movement and has placed its appreciation on record. The High Court has observed that project at Sannidhanam has contributed much to keep the premises clean. That project has now evolved to be of people’s and pilgrims project; appreciated throughout the length and breadth of the nation and in particular, the states from wherever people in huge numbers come to Sabarimala. The pilgrims have taken PunyamPoonkavanam project to their heart and soul and are participating in that project with devotion, as if, it by itself, is an offering to the Almighty. We hope that this conducive eco-friendly approach continues. TDB and the State Government shall do everything required in this regard.

The movement is now all set to extend to all pilgrim spots across the country to spread message of cleanliness is godliness and also to make aware of the significance of Responsible and Conscious Pilgrimage.

Right now, the initiative is focusing on ensuring a clean and garbage-free Sabarimala. Right fromNilackal, the gateway to Sabarimala, to Sannidhanam, the shrine.The movement plans to achieve the goal by sticking to the panchamanthras that should govern all the devotees arriving at the hill shrine for darshan.

The prime intent will be to convince the devotees not to bring plastic wastes and to abstain from dumping it at Sabarimala and to carry the waste generated by them back from where they have brought and to dispose appropriately. The further plan will be to ensure the participation of all the stakeholders in the cleaning process and thereby maintaining the sanctity of Sabarimala Sannidhanam.

If Lord Ayyappa’s Grove can remain sacred; every temple can be so!

Because, Tat Tvam Asi! God resides in you!