Mystery light rattles Sabarimala ahead of festival

Makaravilakku to be celebrated today

A mysterious light was spotted at the high security Ponnambalamedu, near Sabarimala temple where Makaravilakku is traditionally spotted around 7 pm on Saturday creating apprehension among devotees and officials.

The famous hill shrine Sabrimala Ayyappa temple is all set to celebrate the Makaravilakku festival on January 15.

The ceremonial lighting of lamp (Makaravilakku) will be held around 6:30 pm at Ponnambalamedu coinciding with ‘deeparadhana’ (lighting of lamps) at Sabarimala temple. At this time an auspicious star makarajyoti is expected to appear in the skies.

The Kerala police have ordered an enquiry into the incident. However, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the Sabarimala shrine has clarified that the festival will be celebrated on Sunday and the light spotted on Saturday should not be mistaken as Makaravilakku. Executive officer of Sabarimala temple M Satish Kumar said Saturday’s lights were the result of mischief by somebody.

As part of the festival the TDB has deputed priests to light lamps at Ponnambalamedu on Sunday at 6:30 pm coinciding with deeparadhana.

 Earlier, there had been a controversy as to whether the lights are a supernatural phenomenon. But last year TDB had confirmed that Makaravilakku was lit by humans. TDB had also added that coinciding with the occasion a star Makarajyoti was being spotted in the sky.

ADGP of Police in charge of Sabarimala, P Chandrasekharan said superintendents of police of Pathanamthitta and Kottayam have been asked to enquire into the sighting of lamps and how security was violated in the area. The police have banned entry to Ponnambalamedu and only selected officials are allowed entry till Sunday. It is apprehended that the light was lit by people of the Mala Araya tribe in Sabarimala who claimed they had traditional rights to light the lamp at Ponnambalamedu.

Organisations representing the community had earlier said that they will light the lamp. They had claimed that their community members used to lit lamps at Ponnambalamedu a few decades ago, when TDB took away the right from them. However TDB president M Rajagopalan Nair had noted that they cannot be allowed to do so now. On Saturday the TDB president said the light was not spotted at Ponnambalamedu but north of it. The light seemed to be lit from a battery-operated light, aimed at creating apprehension among devotees he said. Makaravilakku would be held on Sunday evening as announced, he stressed.

There is a considerable fall in the number of pilgrims arriving at the temple premises for viewing the festival.

A control room has been opened at Sabarimala and the number is 04735-202663.

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