The annual festival celebrated on 14 january (Makar Sankranti) at the shrine of Sabarimala. The celebration involves the Thiruvabharanam (sacred Ornaments of Lord Ayyappa) procession and a congregation at the hillock Temple of Sabarimala around more than half a million pilgrims reach Sabarimala each year to have a Darshan of this ritual.
According to legend Lord Sri Rama and his brother Lakshmana met Sabari, a Tribal devotee at Sabarimala. Sabari offered for the Lord some fruits and the Lord accepted them gladly. Sri Rama then turned and saw a divine person doing penance, on asking him who he was. Sabari told Rama that it was Sastha. Rama slowly walked towards Sastha and the latter stood up to welcome Rama. Makara Vilakku ritual is celebrated commemorating an anniversary of in this incident.
Thiruvabharanam is the sacred ornaments of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of Sabarimala Temple. It is believed that this gold ornaments are made as per the orders of Pandalam King. This sacred ornaments are kept kept at srambickal palace inside the Pandalam Palace premises. Every year, at the end of the Sabarimala pilgrim season, this ornaments are taken to Sabarimala as a procession and the Ayyappa idol is adorned with this ornaments on the day of Makaravilakku. After” Makaravilakku Festival” Thiruvabharanam is brought back to Srambickal Palace and kept it there for safe custody. Similarly, the Thanka Anki (Golden Attire) is taken back to Sri Parthasarathy temple, Aranmula.
“Makara Jyothi“ means the light of capricorn in Indian languages, Makara is the name of a Zodiac sign. In Sanskrit it is known as “Makar” and in English as “Capricorn”, “Jyothi” means light in Sanskrit. Every year the sun appears to move from one Zodiac constellation to another because of the revolution of earth around it; in Sanskrit it is called “Makara Sankranti”. It usually happens on 14 January every year and various Hindu Festivals are celebrated in connection with this. One of the Temples where a large number of devotees come to worship on 14 January is Sabarimala, a shrine located in thick rain forest in Pathanamthitta district, Kerala on “Makar Sankranti” pilgrims gathers at the Sabarimala Temple precincts to worship this divine star. It is believed that Lord Ayyappa shows His presence in the form of this celestial lighting and blesses his devotees.
“Makara Vilakku” is a flame appears thrice on the Ponnambalamedu, whereas” Makara Jyothi” a celestial star appears on the sky.The huge crowd of pilgrims that witnesses the “Makara Jyothi” has been on the rise every year. It is estimated that around 1.5 million devotees watched “Makara Jyothi” in 2010.
“Thiruvabharanam Petti” (sacred ornaments casket), the” Vellippetti” (silver vessel casket), and the “Kodipetti “(flag casket) are three caskets used for carrying Thiruvabharanam, Pooja utensils, and special flags to Sabarimala. As soon as the procession carrying the holy caskets containing the sacred ornaments is set off at 12 p.m. on January 12 from Valiya Koikkal Temple at Pandalam Palace to Sabarimala, a Brahminy Kite, also known as Sree Krishnaparunthu is sighted by devotees. The Brahminy Kite which is hovering above the Temple is treated as a good omen to start the procession. A special team of representatives carrying the holy caskets on their heads and brings it to Sabarimala on foot. The procession is moved through traditional paths covering forests, hills and rivers. Hundreds of devotees and Armed Police personnel accompany the procession. The procession is given a warm welcome by different temple authorities and associations on the way to Sabarimala and back.
“Erumely Petta Thullal” is an important event during the Sabarimala pilgrim season. “ Petta Thullal”- the dance of ecstasy Ambalappuzha Sangham and Alamkode Sangham are the two teams that perform Petta Thullal on January 11 every year. Petta Thullal starts from Erumely Koothambalam and ends at Erumely Sree Dharmasastha temple. The Ambalappuzha team begins their Petta Thullal soon after sighting Sree Krishna Parunthu. But Alamkode teams performs their ecstatic dance only after witnessing divine star in the sky.