- Well, Amid the ongoing agitation over the entry of women of the menstruating age into the Sabarimala temple following the recent order of the Supreme Court has come the Makaravilakku festival, and the most important event in the two-month-long annual festival season.
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- Makara jyothi is a star that appears in the sky on Makara Sankrama, when the Sun moves from Dhanu rasi (Sagittarius) to Makaram rasi (Capricorn) on the first day of the Malayalam month of Makaram, which is on January 14 (Makara Sankranti) this year.
- In fact, in the evening, the sacred ornaments of the Lord Ayyappa, who is believed to have lived at the Pandalam palace (some 80 km away), would be brought to the Sabarimala shrine from the palace in a procession.
- The erstwhile royal family of Pandalam is the custodian of the ornaments.
- Furthermore, Makara vilakku is the light lit at the Ponnambalamedu, a plateau across the Sabarimala shrine. In fact, it is believed that Lord Ayyappa asserts himself as the Makara Jyothi to bless his devotees. However, the light, believed to have celestial origins, is shown three times by the chief priest of the Pamba temple. The Pamba is the base station of Sabarimala.
- The ritual is performed after the Sirius star appears in the sky. It was performed by the Malaya araya tribals in the past.
- But, when the Travancore Devaswom Board took over the administration of the temple in the early 1950s, then the tribal community lost that right.
- The TDB expects two to three lakh pilgrims at the hill shrine to witness the most auspicious event in the festival calendar.