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Makara Jyothi is just an arati, say Sabarimala temple officials

Mangalore Today / PTI

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 7: Seeking to end the row over the flickering light seen on eastern horizons across Sabarimala temple during "Makarasamkrama" pooja, the temple authorities have clarified that it is "deeparadhana" perfomred by a priest as part of the long followed ritual of the hillshrine of Lord Ayyappa.

"Makaravilakku" is the ritualistic lighting of lamp at Ponnambalamedu while
"Makara jyothi" is a star that appears on the skies at the moment of Makarasmkarama pooja at the forest shrine, witnessed by thousands every year in mid-January, according to top temple authorities.


Makarajyothi row


This year "Makaravilakku", marking the finale of the two- month long pilgrim season of Sabarimala, falls on January 15.

"The light seen at Ponnambalamedu is a ritual," Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) president M Rajagopalan Nair said here yesterday.

Endorsing the stand, senior Thanthri (high priest) Kanadararu Mahseswararu said it was important to keep the distinction between "Makaravilakku" and "Makara Jyothi".

"The Jyothi is a star that appears on the skies on the Makarasamkrama day above the Ponnambalamedu towards the eastern direction of Sabarimala. The lamp lighted during the time of Deeparadhana (arati) in the temple is known as Makara Vilakku," Maraheswararu said.

He,however, said both had high sanctity as far as temple traditions were concerned
and had been held divine by millions of Ayyappa devotees.

According to some historians,lighting the lamp atop the Ponnambalamedu hill has been an ancient tradition of tribal communities living around the hillshrine.

After the temple started attracting devotees in large numbers, the ritual was taken over by TDB and done with the help of forest and electricity departments.

This time, some of the tribal outfits have approached TDB seeking a role in the ritual performed at the Ponnambalamedu.

According to Nair, TDB did not have any objection in inovling the tribal people of Ponnamabalamedu in the ritual alongwith a priest sent from Sababrimala temple.

However, the ritual has been performed in accordance with the directives of the Kerala High Court.

Meanwhile, TDB officials said elaborate arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of the Makaravilakku festival, when thousands of devotees would converge at the hillshrine and surrounding areas.

Last year, 102 pilgrims were killed in a stampede at Pulmedu trekking path when the devotees were returning after witnessing Makaravilakku.

Meanwhile, the income received by the temple since the pilgrim season started in mid-November crossed Rs 114.86 crore, which marked an increases of 20.16 crore compared to last year.

The income upto January 5 stood at Rs 135.02 crore against Rs 114.86 crore during the corresponding period last year.

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