Makara Jyothi indeed man-made, accepts TDB

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Thiruvananthapuram: Seeking to downplay the debate over 'Makara Jyothi' of Sabarimala temple, Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) on Jan 31 said that it was known to most believers that it was a man lit-fire, but there was a Hindu belief behind it.

"It is known to everybody that Makara Jyothi is a fire lit up by men at Ponnabalamedu and TDB also recognises this," TDB President M Rajagoplan Nair stated.

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However, he said that the board was not going to run a campaign to propagate that it was man-made as there was a belief behind it into which the temple board did not intend interfere.

Kerala High Court had recently asked TDB to clarify whether the Makarajyothi is man lit light or celestial phenomenon, in the wake of the Pullumedu stampede in which 102 devotees died on Jan 14 while returning after witnessing the jyothi.

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Nair was briefing media after the discussions the board had with high priests, members of the Travancore and Pandalam Royal Houses and authorities on temple rituals and architecture.

The TDB president said, it was not the Makara Jyothi question which was the main topic of discussion of the meeting, but other issues like whether the temple should be opened for throughout the year for devotees to offer prayers and avoid huge rush during the two-month pilgrimage season starting from mid-November

The unanimous opinion of the meeting was that keeping the temple open all through the year as it was against the unique traditions and customs of the Hill shrine of lord Ayyappa.

The authorities concerned were also against the proposal to broaden the "holy 18 steps" leading to the shrine since altering it was against principles of temple design.

It was pointed out by authorities concerned that the "18steps" itself has divinity attached to it and making any alteration would not be right.

The views that emerged out of the meeting would be discussed and finalised by the Board, and, based on it, a report would be submitted the High court.

The High Court had also sought the opinion of the TDB if the temple could be opened throughout the year to reduce the rush. According the custom followed by the forest temple, the shrine opened only five days every month of Malayalam calendar besides the Nov- Jan 'mandala pooja' and 'makaravilakku' pilgrimage season.

Temple High Priest Kandararu Rajivaru and Vasuthu Expert Kannipayur Narayanan Namboothri were among those present at the meeting.


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