Makara Vilakku On Makara Sankranti
The day of Makara Vilakku is considered to be the day of miracles by devotees. It is a 7-day festival. The pilgrimage to Sabarimala starts from the 1st day of Vrichikam month (as per the Malayalam calendar). This comes between 14th and 17th November. The Makara Sankranti day (the 1st day of Makara month in the Malayalam calendar) is the highly significant one for Lord Ayyappa. This comes between 14th and 16th January.
As per sacred texts, the Makara Sankranti day is when the Sun visits Sani (Saturn), the ruler of Makara Rasi (the zodiac sign of Capricorn). Also, it was on this day, that Dharma Sastha was enshrined in the Sabarimala temple. The Makara Vilakku event is conducted to celebrate this.
Miraculous Events On Makara Sankranti
Every year, on the day of Makara Sankranti a series of miraculous events are said to take place. The first one happens when the jewels of Lord Ayyappa are brought to the Sabarimala temple from the Old Pandalam palace. A Krishnaparunth (considered as Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu) hovers above the procession of jewels like a guardian and protector. This eagle is very rarely seen otherwise. It finally circles 9 times above the sanctum sanctorum of the temple as a mark of paying due respect to Ayyappa once the ornaments are brought inside and adorned on the idol. When the idol is adorned with ornaments, the devotees that throng the temple chant “Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa” several times in unison.
During this event, only one star, the Makara Jyothi star appears in the sky. And once the adorning of ornaments gets completed, the star vanishes from the sky. Moments after this, the Makara Vilakku is lit thrice on the divine place of Ponnambala Medu, in the opposite hills of Sabarimala, after the Deeparadhana (lamp lighting) to Ayyappa.
There is immense significance to this Makara Vilakku. It is actually the holy fire that Indra (God of Heaven) passed on to Parasurama with the help of Sage Narada. Parasurama is said to have offered Aarathi (light lit to invoke God) to the Saraswati River with this holy fire.
It is with this fire that Amba self-immolated. Legend says that Parasurama failed to convince his friend Bheesma to marry Amba. An angered Parasurama waged a war against Bheeshma which lasted for years. Finally, upon the Devas’ insistence, Parasurama withdrew the far, which forced Amba to sacrifice life in the very same holy fire.
The final event of the Makara Vilakku is the Kuruthi Pooja. All the devotees leave the place immediately after this Pooja.