THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala’s newfound rationalism has claimed the state’s spiritual USP — the annual glimmer that attracts lakhs of pilgrims from all over India to the hill shrine of Sabarimala.
After a family of tantrics attached to the forest shrine hinted that the glimmer, Makara Vilakku, was man-made, temple affairs minister G Sudhakaran and Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) president CK Guptan have revealed that the divine light was indeed of profane origin. But they said that it cannot be confused with Makara Jyoti, a star that appears on Makara Sankranthi day along with the Makara Vilakku.
On Tuesday, Sabarimala tantri Kandararu Mohanaru, said in a statement that some people were confusing Makara Vilakku with Makara Jyothi. He said that the Makara Jyothi was a star while Makara Vilakku was a ritualistic light linked to the legend of Parasurama. He said the tribesmen still light Makara Vilakku at Ponnambalamedu every year.
“Makara Vilakku is man-made. The government cannot do anything to stop it. But not everything can be explained by rationalism,” Sudhakaran said. Lakhs of pilgrims throng Sabarimala every January to witness three glitters on the next hill. Though critics have been trying to shatter the myth with explanations ranging from celestial alignment to government-sponsored conspiracies, Ayyappa devotees blindly worshipped the light.
“The TDB has no role in lighting Makara Vilakku. It happens on a hill far from the temple. The board has never advertised that the light was a miracle,” Guptan said.
The tantric was forced to comment on the issue after the former president of TDB, which manages the Sri Dharma Sastha Temple, said the light was lit by officials. “The devaswom board has been functioning with the help of the police and other departments. The Makara Vilakku is also done with the police and other people,” G Raman Nair told a television channel.