Members of the Mala Araya community from Sabarimala observed a day-long hunger strike in front of the Travancore Devaswom Board headquarters here on Wednesday demanding restoration of their right to light the 'Makara Vilakku' on the Makarasankranti Day at Ponnambalemedu.

The protesters marched from Kowdiar junction to Devaswom Board junction, and the strike was accompanied by bhajans and folk arts presentations. Rahul Eashwar, grandson of Sabarimala Tantri (on his daughter’s side), addressed the protestors.

The Mala Araya community mostly inhabit the hillocks surrounding the Sabarimala pilgrim centre. Representatives of the community said that as per age-old tradition, it was the duty and right of Mala Araya community to light the Makara Vilakku on Makarasankranti. However, once the Travancore Devaswom Board was formed, it took away the right from the community. The Board had even fabricated the theory that Makara Vilakku was a super natural phenomenon.