Tens of thousands of Ayyappa devotees in Sabarimala sighted the bright flame, ‘Makarajyoti’ on the eastern horizon of the Sabarimala Sannidhanam in the evening of Makaravilakku on Thursday.

The sacred jewellery, Thiruvabharanam, brought from the Pandalam palace in a customary ceremonial procession reached the temple premises around 6.20 p.m. on Thursday. The tantri, Kandararu Maheswararu, assisted by Melsanthi, G. Vishnu Namboodiri, took the Thiruvabharanam to the sanctum sanctorum and decorated the Ayyappa idol with it prior to the deeparadhana performed at 6.30 p.m.

There was pin-drop silence while the devotees waited anxiously to witness the annual event. The bright celestial star ‘Makara’ was sighted on the eastern horizon of the Sannidhanam followed by a bright flame (Makarajyoti) flickering three times on a remote hillside, transforming the entire atmosphere charged with “Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa” mantra chanted by the multitude of pilgrims thronging the holy hillock.

A large number of pilgrims from different parts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were camping at Sabarimala and surrounding forests for the past few days with the sole intention of witnessing this annual event.

Many devotees were found even perched on tree branches and camped on the rooftops of various high-rise buildings, to worship the ‘Majkarajyoti’.

The Makarasankrama puja was performed at the Ayyappa Temple earlier at 12. 40 p.m. on Thursday.

Devaswsom Minister Kadannappally Ramachandran, Supreme Court Judge Arijit Pasayat, Chief Devaswom Commissioner K. Jayakumar, Devaswom Commissioner P.V.Nalinakshan Nair, former TDB president G. Raman Nair, Guruvayur Devaswom administrator Ratheeshkumar and Bollywood actor, Vivek Oberoi, were among those who were present at the Ayyappa Temple premises to worship the Makrajoyoti on Thursday.

Solar eclipse

The Ayyappa shrine was opened at 3 a.m. on Friday in view of the solar eclipse between 10.41 a.m. and 3.27 p.m.

The Neyyabhishekom ritual was performed till 9 a.m. and the sanctum sanctorum was closed after completing the Utchapuja at 10 a.m.

The reopening of the sanctum sanctorum was rescheduled to 4 p.m. and after certain purification rituals following the solar eclipse.

Rs. 32 crore revenue

According to Devaswom sources, the revenue collection at Sabarimala as on January 10 was Rs. 32 crore against the previous year’s revenue worth Rs. 28.18 crore during the same period.