Makaravilakku is an annual festival held on January 14 in Kerala, India at the shrine of Sabarimala. The festival includes the Thiruvabharanam (sacred ornaments of Ayyappan) 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.
Mandala Pooja/ Makaravilakku
Pilgrimage to Sabarimala begins from the 1st of Vrichikam, a Malayalam month coming in the middle of November (probably between 14 and 17). The most important day for Ayyappan is Makarasankranti Day, which is the 1st of Makara (a month of the Malayalam calendar). This day will fall between January 14 and 16.
On Makarasankranti every year without fail, miraculous events occur. Firstly as the jewels (Thiruvaabaranam) of the Lord are transported from the Old Pandalam Palace to Sabarimala, a Krishnaparanth (holy Garuda – an eagle – the vehicle of Lord Vishnu), circles above the precious jewels (in fact guarding them), like a protector. This rare eagle is rarely seen in the midst of people for a long period of time, yet the auspicious bird follows the Thiruvaabaranam procession, finally circling above Sannidhanam at Sabarimala nine times as it pays its respects to Lord Ayyappan. During this time, there is not a single star in the sky except for a special Nakshatram. As the beautiful jewels are placed on the golden body of the Lord within the temple, the several hundred thousand devotees outside, crammed into any available free space, chant “Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa”. When the jewels are finally all adorned on the Lord, the Nakshatram in the sky miraculously disappears. Within moments after the Lord being adorned with the Thiruvabaranam, an effulgence (Divya Jyoti) appears in the opposite hills of Shabarimala, shining 3 times. This hill is called Ponnambalamedu.
Devotees can view the Divya Jyothi from 9 places in and around Sannidhanam. They are Sannidhanam, Pandithavalam, Pulmedu, Saramkuthi, Neelimala, Marakootam, Hilltop, Chalakayam, and Attathodu.
How to reach Sabarimala
The pilgrims can reach Kottayam & Chengannur by Railway (Broad gauage) and Punalur (Metre Gauage) and from there by bus to Pampa.
Nearest Railway Stations
Kottayam 0481- 2563535
Chengannur – 0479- 2452340
Pamba Railway Enquiry Counter – 04735- 203605By Air:
The pilgrims can reach Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi & Nedumbassery by Air and from there reach Pampa by bus/car.
KSRTC has started operating buses to Coimbatore, Palani and Thenkashi from Pampa for the convenience of the Sabarimala pilgrims. Besides, the Government of Tamil Nadu & Karnataka has been given the permission to operate buses to Pampa. A chain service exists between Pampa and Nilackal base camp