Makaravilakku festival preparations have already begun at Sabarimala in Kerala. The purification rituals were held on Saturday, January 12, 2018 as the part of the festival which included Prasadasudhi ritual which was performed after deeparadhana ritual on Saturday. On Sunday, Bimbasudhi was also performed before Uchapooja.

The sacred ornaments of Lord Ayyappan, Thiruvabharanam will be brought to the temple during a procession at 6:30 pm today. After the procession, Deeparadhana and Makarajyothi darshan will be followed by Makara Samkrama pooja which will be held at 7:52 pm. On Friday, Kalabhaabhishekam will be performed and there will be no ghee abhishekam thereafter.

On January 19, Guruthi will be performed at Malikappuram temple after closing the temple and the two month Sabarimala pilgrimage will be concluded with the closing of the temple on January 20.

It is believed that Lord Ayyappa asserts himself as the Makarajyothi to bless his devotees. The flame appears on the Ponnambalamedu hill which is around 8 km from the shrine.

The lighting of the lamp by the Kerala government with the support of the Travancore Devosom Board and forest department, at Ponnamabalamedu, is the continuation of the practice followed by tribal families who lived near the hilltop.

The Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the temple shrine at Sabarimala said, “Thiruvabharanam (sacred jewels of the deity) will reach ”pathinettampadi” (holy 18 steps) at 6 pm on January 14. At 6.30 pm, the ”deeparadhana” (worship with lamps) will take place with the Lord adorning the jewels. All facilities for the devotees to witness the ”Makaravilakku” and ”Makarajyothi” are in place.”

Makarajyothi is a star which is worshipped by pilgrims on Makara Sankranti on January 14 every year. It is the star Sirius located in Canis Major constellation.

However, compared to last year, Sabarimala has witnessed a lean crowd for the annual festival this time.

With inputs from PTI.