Kerala HC permits to perform Makaravilakku Deeparadhana (As if doing Favour!)

published on April 25, 2011

Sabarimala: HC lets temple body perform Makaravilakku
VR Jayaraj | Kochi – Daily Pioneer

The Kerala High Court on Monday allowed the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) to perform Deeparadhana (worship by lights) at Ponnambalamedu, a hilltop spot away from the Lord Ayyappa shrine at Sabarimala during Makara Sankranthi, the evening before the first of the Makaram month of Malayalam calendar.

The court’s ruling came after the TDB’s admission that Makaravilakku, the light that flickered in the horizon at Ponnambalamedu on the particular day, was actually the light from Deeparadhana and not of divine origin. The court also ruled that there was no need of further investigations to find out the truth behind Makaravilakku.

The High Court’s ruling came while considering a series of petitions filed soon after the January 14 stampede at Pullumedu in Idukki district in which 102 Sabarimala pilgrims were killed while they were returning after sighting the Makaravilakku, which was considered as the most important event of the two-month annual pilgrimage of Sabarimala.

The court directed the Forest and Police departments to provide the necessary security for the TDB to perform Deeparadhana at Ponnambalamedu as the place came under the Periyar Tiger Reserve. It also asked the board not to use government funds for the Deeparadhana but to meet the expenses from its own earnings.

The court’s ruling came after the TDB filed an affidavit saying that the Makaravilakku was not of divine origin but manmade. It said it had never claimed the Makaravilakku to be divine. The board told the court that the light appearing at Ponnambalamedu was part of a Deeparadhana (worship by lights) held traditionally on the particular day by Adivasis of the area.

Makaravilakku was an integral part of faith as far as Sabarimala was concerned and stopping the practice would affect belief, the board said. The affidavit said that the board was prepared to send a priest to Ponnambalamedu to perform the worship by lights in the future, adding that the Adivasis had been performing this worship even before the formation of the TDB.

The Makaravilakku is perhaps the most important event of the two-month annual pilgrimage of Sabarimala and it draws an average of two million devotees to the shrine on that particular day. In the context of the Pullumedu tragedy, rationalists and materialists had approached various courts seeking orders to stop the practice of Makaravilakku.

The complainants were of the opinion that the actual cause of the tragedy was the convergence of lakhs of devotees to sight the Makaravilakku at the same time in a very small area. Their argument was that Sabarimala, several parts of which were ecologically sensitive as in the case of Pullumedu coming within the Periyar Tiger Reserve, could not afford such huge crowds gathering there.

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