‘It is nothing but a fire artificially created by KSEB staff, police'

Contending that Makarajyothi was not a miracle but a man-made fire, the Supreme Court was moved on Saturday to stop lighting it at Ponnambalamedu near the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala in January every year.

The writ petition filed through advocate Deepak Prakash, wanted a direction to restrain the authorities from defrauding the religious followers and believers by making them believe that the light that appears at Ponnambalamedu was a miracle.

Sanal Edamaruku, Resource Person of National Science Centre, a constituent unit of the National Council of Science Museums under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, New Delhi submitted that he was constrained to file the petition “as believers and devotees coming from other States still continue to believe that Makarajyothi is a miracle and millions of people from other States gather in and around Sabarimala to witness this Makarajyothi.”

The petitioner said: “As per the popular belief, a light is seen glowing in the distant hill on the Ponnambalamedu. The said lamp flickers three times before disappearing. The sighting of the lamp/light creates a flutter among the unassuming devotees who have been tutored to believe that the light is a divine one and is a miracle of God. According to the Travancore Devaswom Board which manages the Sabarimala temple a light appears on the hill which is a miracle and the pilgrims turn up in masses to view this unnatural phenomenon.”

However, to the utter shock, dismay and surprise it came to the notice of the petitioner that the Makarajyothi “is nothing but a fire artificially created by employees of Kerala State Electricity Board and Police in connivance with the Travancore Devaswom Board by lighting camphor in a huge vessel and then covering it by blankets to create a blinking effect.”

The Hindu article

The petitioner (who had enclosed an article in The Hindu published on January 22) pointed out that the State of Kerala, the Travancore Devaswom Board, the Kerala State Electricity Board and the State Forest department were unjustifiably promoting the man-made Makarajyothi as a miracle and spreading superstition. The same would amount to violation of the fundamental right to life of the devotees guaranteed under Articles 21 and 25 (religious freedom) of the Constitution.

The petition pointed out that 53 persons were killed during the Makarajyothi in 1999 and this year 102 lost their lives. It wanted a direction to the respondents including the State of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and the Union of India to take immediate steps to hold awareness programmes to inform the people visiting Sabarimala that the light appearing on the hills of Ponnambalamedu was not a miracle but a man-made fire.

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