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Sabarimala Makaravilakku And Makara Jyothi Festival - Reason - Importance - Story

Makaravilakku – Makara Jyothi is an important festival at the famous Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in Kerala. Legend has it that after defeating demon Mahishasura, Hariharasudhan Ayyappa merged with the Dharma Sastha Murti (Vigraham or Bhimbam or idol) on the Makara Jyothi day. It is also the most important and the last festival in the two-month Mandala Pooja – Makaravilakku Kalam at the temple. In 2024, the date of Sabarimala Makaravilakku and Makara Jyothi Festival is January 15.

Sabarimala Makaravilakku and Makara Jyothi Festival is witnessed by thousands of Ayyappa devotees. The evening deeparadhana is the most important event on the day. On the day for deeparadhana, Hariharasudhan Ayyappa appears before the devotees fully attired in the Thiruvabharanam – gold ornaments – which is specially brought from the Pandalam Palace.

Sabarimala Makaravilakku And Makara Jyothi Festival - Reason - Importance - Story

Before the evening deeparadhana, an eagle hovers over the Sabarimala Temple. Next the Makara Star appears on the sky – Makara Jyothi is the star that appears on the sky on the day in the evening. Next is the appearance of Makaravilakku – it is the light that appears three times in the distant hill at Ponnambalamedu.

Legend has it that Hariharasudhan Parashurama first lit the Makaravilakku after installing the murti of Hariharasudhan Ayyappa. It is also believed that the tribals who were harassed by the demon Mahishasura first lit the light to celebrate the slaying of their tormentor by Ayyappa. 

Some elements in society who have nothing to do with Sanatana Dharma have been creating unwanted controversy every year over Sabarimala Makaravilakku.

Chief priest or Tantri of Sabarimala in a press release had clearly stated that the Makaravilakku was a fire lit by human hand on the hill neighboring Sabarimala while the Makara Jyothi was a star that appeared in the evening sky on the day marking the culmination of the annual festival. 

It is the star that is worshiped as a celestial light. The Makaravilakku is merely a ritual involving the lighting of a fire as a symbolic act.

On the same day, Makar Sankranti and Uttarayan are observed throughout India.