Sabrimala : What is Makaravilakku and Makarjyothi
Most of the Devotees who under take the Sabrimala pilgrimage are under the misconception that Makaravilakku and Makarajyothi are same. But both are different, one is man made and the other is a celestial occurrence.
Recently, High court of Kerala has asked the Government to bring out the truth behind Makaravilakku and Makarajyouthi. Several responsible authorities including Devaswam board and thanthri clarified Makaravilakku is man made, but it is a matter of faith.
What is Makarajyothi?
Makarajyothi is nothing but the Cyrus star that appears in the Sky, Makaram the 6 month of Malayalam calendar and Jyothi mean star, Makara Jyothi is the star that appears in Makaram 1st of Malayalam calendar. Makara Jyothi appear after the Deeparadhana in Sabarimalai in south of the sreekovil (Sanctum Sanctorum) on the 1st of Makaram month of Malayalam calendar. It has nothing to do with the religion Cyrus star appears every day after the sun set, but on this day in which the Panthalam royal family brings Ayyapan’s Ornaments ( Thiru abharanam )to the Sabarimalai temple, the star symbolises the presence of Lord Ayyappa the star symbolising ayyappa is called Makara Jyothi.
The most important event at Sabarimala is the Makara Jyothi (usually on January 14th). Thiruvabharanam or the sacred jewels of the Lord (presented by the Pandalam king) arrives at Sabarimala in three boxes. On the arrival of the jewel boxes the whole mountain reverberates to the chanting of ‘Saranam Ayyappa’ by millions of devotees gathered there to watch the event.
The Thiruvabharanam box – still the private property of the Pandalam royal family, starts its journey two days before Makara Jyothi day from Pandalam. The person who carries the box dances in a peculiar trance. Thiruvabharanam travels through Valiakoikkal Sastha temple at Pandalam, Ayiroor Puthia Kavu Temple, Perunattil temple, Vlakkai, Nilaikkal Siva temple, Vellachimala, Pamba and Sabari Peedam before reaching at Sannidhanam around 6.00 PM on the Makara Jyothi day. Every year a Garuda hovers and flies above the Thiruvabharanam boxes as if to guard them.
On reaching the Sannidhanam the Melshanthi and Thandhri receive the sacred jewels amidst the thundering echoes of Sarana ghosham. The Thiruvabharanam box contains a diamond crown, golden bracelets, necklaces and a sword. The priests adorn the Lord with these and perform arathi.
At the same moment a brilliant light of amazing magnificence appears in the northeastern side to the temple at the opposite mountain in a place called Kantamala (the home of devas and rishis). It is believed that this brilliant flame of light is the arathi performed by the rishis and the devas. This event marks the culmination of the pilgrimage to Sabarimala.
What is Makaravilakku?
After the jyothi, that night Malikappurathuamma, mounted on an elephant comes in a procession to the Patinettampadi (18 steps ) and returns back to her abode. This is the beginning of the Makara Vilakku festival. This festival lasts for seven days. Many pilgrims stay back till this festival is over and Kuruthi pooja (offering of water mixed with chunnambu and turmeric powder to the forest deities) is performed.
Even some who leave Sabarimala after witnessing the Jothi observe fasting till the Makara Villaku and Kuruthi pooja is complete at Sabarimala.
Makaravilakku, is a part of a religious ritual that is practised by the tribes in the forest of Ponnambalamedu (the place where Makaravilakku appears). There is nothing inhuman in the Makaravilakku,, no God or goddess is performing this. It has been a practise for more than 100’s of year by the tribes. Actually there is a temple in the Ponnambalamedu, the place is not open to the public it is under the control of Forest department of Kerala. When the Cyrus star appears in the sky on Makaram 1st, these tribes too perform their rituals in that temple. Like in the temple of Sabarimaal they also perform Arathi encircling the fire around the Idol. It is performed by lighting camphor and ghee in a vessel and is circled around the idol 3 times. This lamp or fire is what we see from the Sabarimalai temple and call it Makara Jyothi but the fire in the Ponnabalamedu is the actual Makaravilakku
Makaravilakku: The Arathi that performed by the tribes
It was about 25 years ago rationalist (Yukthi vadhi sangam) Kerala set out to prove the truth behind the Makara Jyothi and Makaravilakku, they claimed that that saw police assisted with the KSEB official is lighting the Makaravilakku. They filed an affidavit before the commission that was enquiring about this in 1999 to visit the Ponambalamedu and to find the truth but the plea was rejected by the high court in same year.
According to them it is this misconception about Makara Jyothi and Makaravilakku is the reason why the disaster happened. They accuse that the devotees from outer Kerala believed Makaravilakku as something done by God, which is a miracle and that is why the people are gathering in places like Pullumedu to see the Makaravilakku not Makrajyothi. You can see Makara Jyothi sitting any were since it is the star that appear in the Sky.
Since Devaswam board has made the differences clear and presented the facts, it is the responsibility of everyone to respect the faith. The government of Kerala should take every possible to steps to ensure the safety of the devotees and avoid such tragedies in future.