Kandararu Maheswararu Thantri, the traditional supreme priest at Sabarimala, has alleged that certain mediapersons and the atheists' lobby are trying to damage people's faith in the Sabarimala temple as well as the Hindu faith itself.
The thantri, who is often referred to as the senior thantri, told a news conference here on Sunday that a section of the media had twisted his words, when he commented on the Makarajyothi controversy, to mean that the Jyothi was man-made. This was not true. What he said was that the Makarajyothi was a star in the sky and Makaravilakku was a traditional symbolic ‘deeparadhana' at Ponnambalamedu.
The Jyothi was a celestial phenomenon, but the Vilakku was a fire lit for the deeparadhana by people. In the past, tribal families used to light this fire. Asked who lit the fire in the present times, the thantri said he was not in the know of such things.
He alleged that an attempt was on to tarnish the image of the Sabarimala temple and to diminish the importance of the pilgrimage. This was being done using the Ponnambalamedu tragedy in which 102 devotees died while trying to view the Makaravailakku on January 14.
The 84-year-old thantri mostly spoke through his grandson Rahul Easwar. Mr. Easwar too professed ignorance about who lit the fire. Asked if the Travancore Devaswom Board was behind the Makaravilakku, which most Ayyappa devotees took for a divine phenomenon, Mr. Easwar said he was not aware of it. “It is a symbolic worship and who does it is immaterial,” he said. “Even if the TDB is doing it, what is wrong with it?”
He rejected a suggestion that the TDB, a quasi-governmental agency, was colluding in cheating millions of Ayyappa devotees by projecting Makaravilakku as a divine miracle.
Mr. Easwar, who frequently offers television comments on issues relating to Sabarimala and Hinduism, said he had mentioned even two years before the difference between the Jyothi and the Vilakku. Jyothi, he said, was the star Sirius which shone brighter on the Makarajyothi night (January 14) and the Vilakku was the fire made at Ponnambalamedu as a symbolic ‘deeparadhana.' “In other words, Makarajyothi is not man-made,” he reiterated.
He claimed that the millions of pilgrims arriving at Sabarimala were not attracted by the Makaravilakku.
Makaravilakku was just one of the many rituals at Sabarimala.
He also said that it was a question of faith and religious traditions and it was not proper to challenge such beliefs.