The holiness that surrounded the Sabarimala hillock peaked when numerous pilgrims, who had set up camp on the hill for several days prior, witnessed the auspicious ‘Makara Jyothi’ during the Makaravilakku festival on Monday.
Worshippers anxiously anticipated in the vicinity of Sannidhanam, fervently uttering ‘Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa,’ in anticipation of witnessing the celestial star Makara and the ethereal radiance.
The ten allocated viewpoints, arranged to host nearly four lakh devotees witnessing the ‘Makara Jyothi’ and ‘Makaravilakku,’ were teeming with a vast assembly of people.
Previously, around 5:15 pm, the boxes containing the ‘Thiruvabharanam’ or sacred jewels, transported from the Pandalam palace, arrived at the hillock. They were then entrusted to the temple Tantri, Kandararau Mahesh Mohanararu, in the presence of Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan, Travancore Devaswom Board president P S Prasanth, and others.
The divine idol was adorned with the sacred ‘Thiruvabharanam,’ and the ‘Deeparadhana’ unfolded at approximately 6:45 pm. A few moments later, the radiant flame of Makaravilakku flickered thrice, emanating from Ponnambalamedu, nestled in the hills opposite the temple. The atmosphere resonated with the chants of ‘Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa.’ Beyond the sacred precincts, devotees gathered at various strategic points around the hillocks to witness the ethereal illumination, leading to an unprecedented influx. Pilgrims had established makeshift shelters known as ‘parnasalas’ at Pandithavalam.
The Makarasankrama pooja, which signifies the sun’s transition from Dakshinayanam to Uttarayanam, occurred at 2:46 am earlier today. As a ritual, ghee sourced from the Kowdiyar Palace in Thiruvananthapuram was ceremoniously poured onto the idol of Lord Ayyappa.
Stringent security measures were implemented as the Kerala Police augmented their presence with an extra contingent of 1000 officers, supplementing the originally scheduled deployment of 2500 personnel. Concurrently, the KSRTC facilitated the transportation of pilgrims returning from Sabarimala to different regions of the state with the operation of 800 buses.
Earlier today, the renowned Tamil singer P K Veeramani Dasan was honored with the prestigious ‘Harivarasanam’ award by Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan. This accolade, accompanied by a cash prize of Rs one lakh, a citation, and a plaque, was presented to him during a ceremony at the Sannidhanam Auditorium in Sabarimala. P K Veeramani Dasan, acknowledged for his significant contributions, has delivered over 6000 devotional songs in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Sanskrit. The ceremony, presided over by Ranni MLA Pramod Narayan, celebrated the exceptional achievements of the acclaimed artist.
With the culmination of the annual pilgrimage season on January 21, devotees can avail themselves of darshan in the temple until the night of January 20. The conclusion of the annual pilgrimage season is set for the morning of January 21, following the Guruti ritual at Malikappuram the preceding day.
Minister Radhakrishnan, overseeing Devaswom affairs, inspected the arrangements at the Ayyappa temple today. He observed that the influx of devotees to the hill shrine surpassed expectations for the entire season. There was a notable increase in the number of elderly women and children compared to previous seasons, leading to an overall surge in pilgrims arriving per hour. In response to the heightened demand, the state government and the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) collaborated to enhance facilities for pilgrims in coordination with relevant departments. Despite these efforts, Minister Radhakrishnan noted unwarranted attempts to criticize Sabarimala and the pilgrimage experience, all of which were ultimately proven incorrect.