Video of a stray dog accompanying 13 Ayyappa devotees to Sabarimala temple has gone viral. The dog walked over 480 km with the devotees. According to ANI, the devotees started their annual pilgrimage barefoot from Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh on 31 October. On November 17, they reached Chikkamagaluru district’s Kottigehara in Karnataka.
The devotees were not initially aware of the dog following them. Upon their continued journey it kept showing up behind them. They offered it the food they prepared for themselves. The pilgrims told ANI they perform the pilgrimage every year but this time around it became a new experience for them.
The internet responded in kind to the act. The video has garnered 71,000 views and 7,000 likes. The opinion of the internet was that the whole incident was very touching. Some called it the purest form of prayer. Others called it incredible.
The Sabarimala festival officially opened on Sunday with thousands waiting for darshan. News agencies cited police saying that almost 50,000 pilgrims had arrived for darshan from different parts of South India and Kerala.
PTI reported that a devotee said he was happy that there is peaceful atmosphere around the shrine and there were no restrictions for pilgrims. Heavy rains had lashed the temple complex drenching devotees standing patiently in the queues.
#WATCH Karnataka: A stray dog has been following a group of 13 Ayyappa devotees, who are on a pilgrimage to Kerala’s Sabarimala & has walked 480 km so far. The devotees started from Andhra Pradesh’s Tirumala on Oct 31 & have reached Chikkamagaluru dist’s Kottigehara now. (17.11) pic.twitter.com/9ke8uFwRCt
— ANI (@ANI) November 18, 2019
Chief priest A K Sudheer Namboothiri opened the sanctum sanctorum at 3 a.m and performed special pujas including ‘Neyyabhishekam’ among others. The Ayyappa shrine was opened for the pilgrim season, on Saturday, after the Supreme Court decided to refer to a larger bench for the re-examination of issues including those arising out of its 2018 verdict lifting a centuries-old ban on menstruating woman visiting the hilltop shrine.