Nilakkal, January 14: The annual Makaravilakku festival will be celebrated at Sabarimala temple in Kerala today. All arrangements for the Makaravilakku festival have been made at Sabarimala temple, said the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDP), which manages the hill shrine. Makaravilakku is a light that becomes visible after sunset in the sky. Besides, Makara Jyothi will be worshipped by pilgrims on Makara Sankranti this evening.

"Thiruvabharanam (sacred jewels of the deity) will reach pathinettampadi (holy 18 steps) at 6 pm on January 14. At 6.30 pm, the deeparadhana (worship with lamps) will take place with the Lord adorning the jewels. All facilities for the devotees to witness the Makaravilakku and Makara Jyothi are in place," TDB president A Padmakumar told PTI. Makara Jyothi is the star Sirius located in Canis Major constellation. Makaravilakku at Sabarimala 2019 Date: Rituals, Customs And Traditions Attached to the Annual Festival Held on Makar Sankranti.

Devotees believe Lord Ayyappa asserts himself as the Makara Jyothi to bless them. The flame appears on the Ponnambalamedu hill which is around 8 km from the shrine. The lighting of the lamp by the Kerala government with the support of the Travancore Devosom Board and forest department, at Ponnamabalamedu, is the continuation of the practice followed by tribal families who lived near the hilltop.

"The temple will close on January 20. Only the members of the royal family of Pandalam are allowed on that day. The last day for other devotees is January 19," Padmakumar said. However, compared to last year, Sabarimala has witnessed a lean crowd for the annual festival this time. Devotees are apprehensive over chances of violent protests in case any more women of menstrual age attempt to trek the hill during the festival.

Security has been tightened up at Sabarimala, Pampa and its base camp at Nilakkal. The three-member monitoring committee appointed by the Kerala High Court, comprising former High Court Justices P R Raman, S Sirijagan and Additional Director General of Police A Hemachandran, expressed satisfaction after reviewing security arrangements. (With PTI inputs)

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jan 14, 2019 09:48 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website