Swamy Ayyappa


Makara Jyothi

Sabarimala, Jan 15: Makarajyoti is a star and worshiped by pilgrims in huge numbers at Sabarimala temple in Kerala on every Makara Sankranthi day, January 14.

Makarajyoti, the star, disappears when the 'Thiruvaabharanam' (holy ornaments) brought into the sanctum sanctorum of the temple from the palace, nearby the temple, believed to be where Lord Ayyappa spent his childhood.

The Makarajyoti (star) is not to be mistaken to Makaravilakku. Makaravilakku is a light or flame that appears thrice on the Ponnambalamedu hill, four kms away to the temple. Just to have a glance of the Makaravilakku, Ayyappa devotees on last Friday climbed on to the top of a van in large numbers and 104 of them lost their lives when it overturned to roll on the crowd.

Recently, Kerala government has made it clear that the flame is man-made and there is no any mystery or superstition in it. The Ponnambalamedu hill, from where the Makaravilakku appears, region is under the control of Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) that supplies power to Sabarimala.

Makaravilakku, the flame or light, appears to the exited devotees when huge heaps of camphor are put into large bowls and lighted. To make it a three-time flame, the camphor flames are extinguished using large wet sacks. After a few minutes, it is lit again and the process repeated for two more times.

However, the mystery, behind the 'Garuda,' the eagle, escorting the procession of 'Thiruvaabharanam,' (a box containing jewels of the deity) from the Pandalam royal palace to the temple, still remained unexposed. The eagle comes back, then the ornaments are taken back from Sabarimala to Pandalam palace.

The devotees' stampede at Pullumedu hill near Sabarimala on Friday, Jan 14, claimed 104 lives. In one form or the other, such disasters have occurred in the past.

Since the Kerala government and the temple itself admitted that the Makaravilakku was not a celestial one but a fire lighted by men, devotees need not go hysteric that usually leads to stampede like disasters.