File photo of Kerala's Sabarimala temple. (Source: Wikipedia commons)
At least 20 Sabarimala pilgrims were injured in a "minor stampede" at the famous hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa this evening, which witnessed a heavy rush of devotees.
The injured have been admitted to Sannidhanam hospital, Pathnamthitta Collector R Girija said.
She said there was a "small stampede" between Sannidhanam and Malikapuram and about 20 persons were injured.
There was a heavy rush of pilgrims today, the penultimate day before culmination of the 41-day mandala pooja.
The stampede occurred just as the holy 'Thanga Angi' procession carrying ornaments worn by Lord Ayyappa on Mandala pooja tomorrow had reached the temple this evening.
The procession starts from Aranmula Sree Parthasarthy temple four days before the Mandala pooja.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said there was a heavy rush of pilgrims at the shrine when the thanga angi was brought.
He was at the temple shortly before the stampede and had left the shrine after 'deeparadhana' (evening prayers) with Thanga Angi.
The minister said he was on his way to the hospital.
Police are restricting movement of pilgrims from downhill Pamba to sannidhanam because of the heavy rush.