April 22, 2017: Varoodhini Ekadasi
April 24, 2017: Varaha Jayanathi, Somashroda Vratam
April 25, 2017: Maasa Sivarati, Sivasannidhi Snanam
As we are all aware, the first day of the solar month of Makaram is considered to be one of the most auspicious periods of the year. The Makara Sankranti day is the most important occasion for the deity Lord Ayyappan (also called as Lord Ayyappa in other parts of India) of Sabarimala Temple located in the Western Ghats of the Kerala State of India. Devotees from all parts of the country gather at the temple during this period.
On Makara Sankranthi day, the temple awaits the arrival of jewels in three different wooden caskets, the residing deity’s God ornaments kept in custody of the King of Panthala, the foster father of Lord Ayyappa as the legend goes. After adornment of this, an Arti is offered. Simultaneously at this time, on the eastern side on the hill Ponnambala Medu, the much-awaited Makara Jyothi appears for the view of the large number of pilgrims who anxiously wait for this holy sight.
From the time the sanctum sanctorum is closed after the mid day ‘uttachakala pooja’, the temple doors are opened only after the adornment of Thiruvabharanam and no pilgrim is permitted inside the quadrangle of the temple. On the Makara Sankranti day, the Jyothi is observed as a glowing light on the Eastern hill ridge at Ponnambalamedu. This occurs simultaneously as the Arti inside the sanctum sanctorum. Millions of devotees occupy all vantage points to get a clear glimpse of the Jyothi, a rare sight in one’s life. A collective addressing of Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa in unison by all assembled in and around the large temple complex facing the Jyothi reverberates the atmosphere.
Three days earlier to this event, dedicated and designated devotees, visiting various temples route, carry the three Thiruvabharanam caskets. It is said that the pair of Eagles fly overhead all through the entourage upto the sacred 18 steps in the temple. It is a belief that as long as these Eagles hover overhead, those who carry them never feel the weight of the caskets burdensome.
May Lord Swamy Ayyappa shower His blessings on the entire universe.