Thousands of devotees worshipped the Makarajyoti, a lone bright star that appeared in the sky just above the Ayyappa Temple complex at Sabarimala Sannidhanam, and the ritualistic deeparadhana held at Ponnambalamedu, a remote hill in the forests facing the Ayyappa shrine, as part of the annual Makaravilakku festival on Sunday evening.
The sacred jewellery, Thiruvabharanam, brought from the Pandalam palace in a customary ceremonial procession reached the Sannidhanam by 6.32 pm. Devaswom Minister, V.S. Sivakumar, Travancore Devaswom Board president, M. Rajagopalan, Nair and other TDB authorities received the sacred attire at the temple premises.
The Guruswami who carried the wooden jewellery box took it to the temple sopanam and handed it over to the chief priest (Tantri). The Tantri, Kandararu Maheswararu, assisted by Melsanthi, N. Balamurali, took the Thiruvabharanam to the sanctum sanctorum and the Ayyappa idol was adorned with the sacred jewellery prior to the deeparadhana performed at the temple at 6.42 pm.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Ayyappa devotees were patiently waiting at the temple premises with folded hands, awaiting the sighting of Makaravilakku, a bright flame, as part of the ritualistic deeparadhana held atop Ponnambalamedu immediately after the deeparadhana performed at the Ayyappa shrine.
The entire Sannidhanam was charged with devotion as ‘Swami Saranam’ mantra rented the air. Devotees were taken to some sort of a divine ecstasy with the sighting of Makaravilakku atop Ponnambalamedu around 6.42 pm.
Drop in pilgrim turn out
There was a marked decline felt in the pilgrim turn out for this year’s Makaravilakku festival owing to various reasons that include the Mullapperiyar imbroglio and the painful memories of last year’s stampede tragedy at Pulmedu.
The State Government’s failure to provide transport facility for the pilgrims to Pulmedu has literally stopped the flow of pilgrims to this hitherto popular Makarajyoti viewing point in the forests, this year.
According to reports received here at 8 pm, hardly a 1,000 devotees were present at Pulmedu to worship the Jyoti.
Still the Sannidhanam and surrounding forest areas witnessed heavy rush of devotees for the Makaravilakku festival on Sunday. This time, the number of pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka appeared to have been higher than those from Tamil Nadu reportedly owing to the rumours spreading there in connection with the Mullapperiyar agitation.
Supreme Court Judge, Arijit Pasayath; Bollywood star Vivek Oberoi; Malayalam-Tamil actor, Jayaram and K. Jayakumar, Additional Chief Secretary, were among those attended the annual festival.
Additional Director General of Police, P. Chandrashekharan, told The Hindu that no untoward incident hhas been reported from any par of Sabarimala or its base camps.