Mystery over early ‘Jyoti’ at Sabarimala deepens

via PNS - Kochi published on January 19, 2012

The mystery over the appearance of a light near Ponnambalamedu, where the holy Makara Jyoti is being sighted at Kerala’s Hindu pilgrimage centre Sabarimala once a year, on last Saturday, a day before the date set for Jyoti Darshan, deepened with the police refusing to confirm the theory of the temple administration body that it was no flame but the light from a searchlight.

The police on Wednesday said they could not confirm whether the light that appeared on the hilltop on Saturday evening was from the searchlight of the Forest Department as claimed by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), the Government-controlled body that looked after the affairs of the Lord Ayyappa shrine at Sabarimala.

Additional DGP Chandra Sekharan, in charge of the security in and around Sabarimala, said that the police had arranged fool-proof security in areas surrounding Ponnambalamedu. No vehicles had been allowed to enter the area on January 13 and 14, he said. He, however, added that exact details would be available only when the final report on the matter came.

The TDB had announced that Makara Jyoti Darshan at Sabarimala, the ultimate event of the 65-day annual pilgrimage to the forest shrine, would be on Sunday, though it was to be sighted as per tradition on Saturday itself. However, a light appeared on the distant hilltop on Saturday evening much to the surprise of the pilgrims and devotees across Kerala.

The light was seen at the Sabarimala View Point on the Ponnambalamedu hills but two km away from the spot where the Jyoti was to occur. The police said that there was no searchlight around and that nobody except some policemen, Forest personnel and some Mala Araya tribespeople were in the area on that day.

The incident had generated confusion among the pilgrims and most of them began to chant praises of Lord Ayyappa and to say prayers on seeing the light. Doubts were immediately aired that the light could have been from a flame lit by the Mala Araya tribespeople who had been claiming that it was their traditional right to light the Jyoti.

However, the role of the tribespeople was ruled out immediately as the police reported that no strangers had entered the forest near Ponnambalamedu on Saturday evening. It was in this context that the TDB had come forward with the theory that the light sighted near Ponnambalamedu was from the Forest Department’s searchlight.

The Makara Jyoti Darshan, the holiest of all rituals in the annual pilgrimage at Sabarimala, is to be held on the last day of Dhanu month of the Malayalam calendar at the time of shifting of the month into Makaram, the sixth month of the calendar. As per this system, the Jyoti was to be sighted on Saturday.

However, the TDB had decided to hold the Darshan on Sunday, the first day of the Makaram month, diverging from the normal system, reportedly on the advice of the traditional chief priest (Tanthri) of the temple. The ultimate authority to decide on the rites and ritual at the shrine is the Tanthri.

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