The Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple celebrates the Makaravilakku and Makara Jyothi festival on the first day of the Makara Masam, according to the traditional Malayalam calendar observed in Kerala. In 2024, the date for Sabarimala Makaravilakku is January 14. It is believed that on this auspicious day, Lord Ayyappa merges with the main murti in the Sabarimala Temple.
The highlight of the Sabarimala Makaravilakku day is the evening deeparadhana, which is the most significant ritual. During this ceremony, Lord Ayyappa is adorned in Thiruvabharanam, a collection of gold ornaments specially brought from the Pandalam Palace.
Before the evening deeparadhana on Makaravilakku day, an eagle can often be seen hovering over the Sabarimala Temple. Following this, the Makara Star makes its appearance in the evening sky, known as Makara Jyothi. Finally, the Makaravilakku, a radiant light, appears three times on a distant hill at Ponnambalamedu.