Millions behold Makara Jyoti

via Daily Pioneer published on January 15, 2012

Tens of thousands of pilgrims jostling among themselves at the various vantage points at Kerala’s Sabarimala and millions of devotees sitting in their homes with eyes glued on the TV screens on Sunday evening experienced the bliss of having the darshan of Makara Jyoti, the holy flame that flickered on the Ponnambalamedu hilltop thrice.

The Makara Jyoti was sighted at Ponnambalamedu as per the plan of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), administering the affairs at Sabarimala, at 6.41 pm just when the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord Ayyappa temple was opened for Deeparadhana (ritual of lights) for which the idol of the deity was decked in the holy attires, Thiruvabharanam.

The atmosphere of Sannidhanam, the abode of Lord Ayyappa, and other places among the Sabarimala mountains, grew loud with the chanting of “Saranam Ayyappa” from of throats of tens of thousands of pilgrims as the holy flame flickered three times at the faraway summit.

The TDB, police and other departments concerned with the pilgrimage had taken extra care to arrange all necessary facilities and to provide foolproof security to the pilgrims in the context of the gruesome stampede that occurred at Pullumedu en route to Sabarimala on the night of January 14 last year in which 102 pilgrims were crushed to death.

The authorities had warned devotees not to wait on top of buildings and trees and other such vantage points to sight the Jyoti. The Makara Jyoti Darshan is the ultimate event of the annual 65-day Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season of the famed Hindu shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala.

The sighting of a light on Saturday evening near Ponnambalamedu had created confusion among the devotees but the TDB clarified that it was only the searchlight of the Forest Department personnel who were patrolling the jungles to prevent trouble-makers from entering the place where the Makara Jyoti was to occur.

On Sunday morning, the police arrested the leaders of the Malayaraya tribe and their supporters who tried to march to Ponnambalamedu claiming that it was their traditional right to hold Deeparadhana there. The police had earlier served notice on them not to enter the Ponnambalamedu area.

There was no big rush of devotees at Pullumedu, known as one of the best places to sight the Jyoti, due to last year’s tragedy, the restrictions the authorities had imposed on entry of vehicles into the area and the ongoing standoff between Kerala and Tamil Nadu over the Mullaperiyar dam issue.

Over a lakh devotees had assembled at Pullumedu last year to sight the Jyoti. Similar lack of rush was witnessed at the other two Jyoti-sighting places in Idukki district, Parunthumpara, where about 150,000 pilgrims had assembled last year, and Panchalimedu.

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