Millions behold Makara Jyoti at Sabarimala

via PNS | Pathanamthitta published on January 14, 2010

Lakhs of devotees jostling among themselves at the various vantage points on the hills and meadows and millions sitting with eyes riveted on the television screens in their drawing rooms on Thursday evening experienced the divine sight of the Makara Jyoti, the holy flame appearing on the distant mountains, the ultimate event of the Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season of the famed Hindu shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala in Kerala.

The atmosphere of Sannidhanam, the abode of Lord Ayyappa, and other places in the mountain ranges of Sabarimala, grew loud with chanting of “Saranam Ayyappa” from lakhs of throats of the assembled devotees as the holy flame flickered at Ponnambalamedu, the faraway summit, to the peeling of bells at the hill shrine, at 6.30 pm. Prior to that, the appearance of Makaram star on the eastern horizon marking the shift of the earth’s path from the southern trajectory to the northern around the sun at about 5.50 pm was the other highlight of the blessed day.

Rough estimates placed the number of devotees present at the various places at Sabarimala to sight the Jyoti was put at 25 lakhs. The Makara Vilakku festival was held amidst tight security measures for which more than 4,500 State police personnel apart from those of the central forces, National Disaster Response Force had been deployed at Sannidhanam, Pampa, the base camp for the pilgrims, and the 4.5-km trek between them.

The Makara Samkrama Pooja (the ritual performed to symbolize the shift of the earth’s path) at the sanctum sanctorum at 12.39 hrs Thursday was witnessed by thousands of pilgrims and the high point of the season was heralded by putting the Thiruvabharanam (holy golden ornaments) brought from the Pandalam Palace on the idol of Lord Ayyappa in the evening. The darshan of the Makara Jyoti this time was just when the Deeparadhana (worship with lights) was held for the lord at the shrine. Normally, the Makara Jyoti was being sighted after the Deeparadhana.

Thousands of devotees had been present in front of and around the shrine when the Deeparadhana was held as this was seen as the most blessed vision of the Lord, decked in Thiruvanabharanam. According to legends, Lord Parasurama, one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, had installed the idol of Lord Ayyappa at the sanctum sanctorum at Sabarimala on the day of the Makara Sankramam.

Another legend has it that the idol of Lord Ayyappa is being decked in the golden robes of a warrior, complete with the archers’ bow and arrows, as per the wish of the Lord’s foster father, the king of Pandalam to see him as a warrior. As per the legend, Lord Ayyappa, despite his life in the Pandalam Palace, had chosen the life of an ascetic.

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