Makaravilakku is an annual festival held on 14th January, Makar Sankranti in Kerala at the shrine of Sabarimala.
Makaravilakku includes the Thiruvabharanam procession and a congregation at the hill shrine of Sabarimala. An estimated half a million devotees flow to Sabarimala every year to have a darshan (vision) of this ritual.
Makaravilakku is a part of a religious ritual that is practised by the tribes in the forest of Ponnambalamedu. There is nothing supernatural in the Makaravilakku, no God or Goddess is performing this. It has been practised for more than hundreds of years by the tribes. When the Sirius star appears in the sky on Makaram 1st, these tribes too perform their rituals in that temple. Like in the temple of Sabarimala they also perform Arathi encircling the fire around the Idol. It is performed by lighting camphor and ghee in a vessel and is circled around the idol 3 times. This lamp or fire is what we see from the Sabarimalai temple and call it Makara Jyothi but the fire in the Ponnabalamedu is the actual Makaravilakku.
Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana met Sabari, a tribal devotee, at Sabarimala. Sabari offered the Lord fruits after tasting them. But the Lord accepted them gladly and whole-heartedly. The Lord then turned and saw a divine person doing tapas. He asked Sabari who it was. Sabari said it was Sasta. Rama walked towards Sasta and the latter stood up to welcome Rama. The anniversary of this incident is celebrated on Makara Vilakku day.
The name refers to the lighting of a bright "vilakku" (lamp) three times atop Ponnambalamedu. The sanctum sanctorum of Sabarimala, which were used to communicated the completion of Deeparadhana in Ponnampalamedu.
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