Lakhs of devotees witness Makaravilakku

Lakhs of devotees witness Makaravilakku

The Makaravilakku festival was celebrated with traditional rites at the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala on Sunday.

Several lakhs of devotees from all over India witnessed ‘Makaravilakku’ which was lit by a priest at Ponnambalamedu near the Sabarimala temple at 6:30 pm coinciding with ‘Deeparadhana’ which is lighting of lamps at Sabarimala temple.

Around the same time, Makarajyoti, a star, appeared in the skies. The star was welcomed with loud prayers.

The different view-points in and around the Sabarimala shrine were occupied by devotees hours before the ceremony began. A large number of devotees had been camping at the holy Sabarimala hillock days before the ceremony to witness Makaravilakku.

However, the crowds had decreased compared to last year, following the blockades at points of entry into Kerala along the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. Vehicular traffic between both states has been controlled following violence subsequent to the dispute between the two states regarding the Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala.

First time

This is the first ‘Makaravilakku’ festival held after the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the shrine, publicly declared that the light is lit by humans and not supernatural.  
Kerala minister for Devaswom, V S Shivakumar, top officials, south Indian film star Jayaram and Bollywood star Vivek Oberoi were among those who were at the temple on the occasion.

Traditional ornaments brought from Pandalam, the place where Lord Ayyappa is believed to have been born, were received with the customary rites at around 5:30 pm at the temple. Deeparadhana was held later after decorating the idol with ornaments.