Ayyappa mantras echo in Sabarimala on Makarajyothi

Scores of pilgrims took the position at various viewpoints near the temple as well as at Pamba since Sunday to get a clear view of the Makarajyothi that appeared at the Ponnambalmedu mountain ranges. As per belief, a star will also glow in the sky coinciding with the event. PTI file photo

Lord Ayyappa mantras echoed the entire Sabarimala area in Kerala as the auspicious Makarajyothi (holy lamp) appeared on the mountain ranges at 6.35 pm on Monday.

Over one lakh devotees thronged in and around Sabarimala Ayyappa temple to witness the Makarajyothi. As the lamp came up, the devotees simultaneously chanted Ayyappa mantras.

Scores of pilgrims took the position at various viewpoints near the temple as well as at Pamba since Sunday to get a clear view of the Makarajyothi that appeared at the Ponnambalmedu mountain ranges. As per belief, a star will also glow in the sky coinciding with the event.

Ahead of the Makarajyothi, the 'Tiruvabharanam' (Ornaments of Lord Ayyappa) from Pandalam palace reached the temple premises in a procession by around 6 p.m. The temple authorities accorded a ritualistic reception to the procession that began on Saturday and proceeded along the traditional forest routes. The Ayyappa idol was adorned using the ornaments and the 'Deeeparadhana' ritual was performed by around 6.30 p.m. By 6.35 p.m. the Makarajyothi was lit on the Ponnmabalameddu rituals. The lamp used to glow up trice in a minute. The entire Sabarimala area echoed with Aayyappa Mantras while the Makarajyothi came. The Makarajyothi lasted for a few minutes. The 'Makarasamkrama' pooja was performed afterwards.

Noted playback singer P Susheela was among the prominent persons who offered prayers at the hill shrine on Monday. It was her first visit to the temple. She also received the Harivarasanam award instituted by the Kerala government.

According to police sources, the pilgrim turn out during this Makarajyothi day and the eve was about 50,000 less than that during previous years. As per police records, the number of devotees who reached Sabarimala till 5 p.m. on Monday was 48,030. On Sunday 1,00,312 pilgrims reached. A major section of pilgrims who reached on Sunday stayed back.

During the Makarajyothi day of 2018, the number of pilgrims who reached the hill shrine was 75,000. On the Malakarajyoti eve last year around 1,20,000 devotees visited Sabarimala.

Police estimate that the number of devotees at Sabarimala at the time of this Makarajyothi could be around  1.5 lakh, while it was around 2.25 lakh last year. The decline in devotees was due to the row over the entry of women in the 10-50 age group to the temple.

A senior police officer said that there was considerable decline in the number of Malayali pilgrims from middle and upper classes of the society. The demand for special passes for VIP darshan was also considerably low this time.

Over 3,000 police personnel were posted in and around Sabarimala to manage the rush of pilgrims. Pilgrims were strictly restricted from entering terrace of buildings in large numbers. Due to the recent landslides, no pilgrims were allowed at Hill Top at Pamba, which was one of the major viewpoints of Makarajyothi.

The about two-month long Sabarimala pilgrimage will end on January 19. The season was eventful and tension-packed owing to the protests against the entry of women in the 10-50 age group. The Supreme Court on 2018 September 28 lifted the years-long ban on entry of women in the menstruating age to the temple. The ban was imposed based on the faith that the presiding deity was a celibate. A batch of petitions seeking review of the order is scheduled to be considered by the Supreme Court on January 22.

While several women, including noted activists Trupti Desai, could not make it to the temple owing to the high-voltage protest, two women from north Kerala, Bindhu Ammini and Kanaka Durga, managed to enter the temple on January 2. Afterwards,a couple of other women, including a Sri Lankan native, also entered the temple.

Kerala witnessed a series of tension with the BJP-RSS and other Sangh Parivar outfits staging protest over the entry of women. Police also slapped cases against thousands of activists and several prominent persons like BJP state general secretary K Surendran had to spend days in judicial remand.

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Ayyappa mantras echo in Sabarimala on Makarajyothi

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