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'Makaravilakku' celebrated at Sabarimala Ayyappa temple under covid protocol

SABARIMALA, Jan 14: The 'Makaravilakku' festival was celebrated at the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple situated in the Western Ghats of Kerala on Friday, marking the culmination of the pilgrimage season that began in November. WATCH: Makaravilakku festival - Doordarshan

Due to covid, only 75,000 pilgrims were allowed to visit the temple to witness the 'Makaravilakku.' 'Makaravilakku' is a light seen on another distant hilltop at Ponnambalamedu, about 8 km up away from the hill temple, at around 6:45 pm every year on this day even as the Deeparadhana goes on in the temple. The flame invariably appears thrice one after other. It continues to be a mysterious occurrence since ancient times although recently there have been several attempts by non-believers to unravel the phenomenon.

Earlier in the evening, the 'Tiruvabharanam' (sacred ornaments) were adorned on the Ayyappa idol. The 'Thiruvabharanam' was brought in a procession from the palace 80 km away in Pandalam where Ayyappa is believed to have been brought up. SEE Details at: SABARIMALA, the pilgrim centre

'Makaravilakku', which began on December 30, is the second phase of the annual temple pilgrimage that opened on November 15. The first phase of the season called Mandala Pooja, starting November 15, ended on December 26, after 41 days. A pilgrim has to follow a strict regimen of religious practices from day one, marked by austerity and abstinence. January 14 marks the start of the auspicious Makaram month in Malayalam calendar.

Vaccination certificate and negative covid test report were mandatory to visit the temple. Bookings were done online. Last year also because of covid only 5,000 devotees visited the temple while lakhs of them throng Sabarimala every year otherwise.

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