The Sunrise….

November 1, 2008

Makarajyothi and Makaravilakku: A hoax or divine miracle??????

Over the years the Indian media especially Malayalam TV channels have been airing the live visuals of Makaravilakku with commentary, but most of them stood far off from the truth. That has prompted me write this blog.

General conception: A celestial light appears around Jan 14 every year at Ponnambalamedu in the Sahyadri ranges of the Western Ghats in Kerala, India. This is called Makarajyothi/Makaravilakku. It is believed that Swami Ayyappan/Dharmasaasta/Hariharaputra reveals himself as this celestial light to bless his devotees. Millions of pilgrims travel from far and wide to witness this spectacle. This is what at least 80-90% Hindus believe about the spectacle.

Skeptics’ version: The skeptics say this is a stage-managed show by the Travancore Devasom Board, and Govt. of Kerala.They say the authorities lit the huge pile of camphor and produce this light. Infact in 1981,The Kerala Yukthivadi Sangham climbed Ponnambalamedu and lighted a number of fires confusing the devotees with many Makaravilakkus.

The reality: The reality lies somewhere between the two. If you go through the authentic literatures, the truth is very well explained. Actually Makarajyothy and Makaravilakku are different, not the same as conceived by most. Makarajyothy is a star that appears in the sky during that part of the year. It’s a celestial phenomenon and this can be explained scientifically. Makaravilakku is man-made fire in ponnambalamedu.

What made people believe Makarajyothi and Makaravilakku are same: Makaravilakku actually was the festival of the tribal community (adivasis) who resided Ponnambalamedu forest areas. They used lit fire intermittently 3 times each representing Lord Shiva, Lord Maha- Vishnu and Lord Brahma. Later in early 40s Ponnambalamedu was taken over by KSEB (Kerala State Electricity Board).But the tribal community insisted that every year this festival has be continued without failure and this has to be organized by KSEB. Later in 60s and 70s, Travancore devaswam board understood Makaravilaaku is a duck that lays golden eggs and can bring crores of revenue. They along the mainstream Hindu organization started spreading the propaganda that Makarajyothi and Makaravilakku are same. Now people from various parts of India come to see this spectacle.

How the current stage-managed show works: The TDB authorities get themselves ready with huge piles of camphor and wet blankets in Ponnamabalamedu. When Sreekovil of Sabarimala is getting opened they will get the indication through phone (earlier days radio commentary was used). Immediately they will fire the camphor and cover with wet blankets, intermittently, to give the blinking effect.

Its high time the so-called Hindu organizations and the government organizations come in open and lay this fact in front of the public and educate them.


  1. Well researched,short yet comprehensive article..Kudos to you…Though I am knowing this in detail for the first time, I am not much surprised..All religions have these sort of drama,may it be hinduism or islam or christianity or whatever..To them,people’s sentiments and religion is a business..So many people know this and still go there,why?Because,in today’s world they need somebody to lean on and after a pilgrimage,I guess they may feel recharged…

    If people get mental satisfaction and feel closer to God from viewing ,no matter how much you educate them,they will keep visiting the place..In Islam,we are not allowed to pray to naybody else other than Allah..Associating anybody else with Him is the most biggest sin..Well,how many people do you see visiting moques which contain graves of somebody and people pray to those dead bodies..It is a matter of messed mind and faith and no matter how much we talk to the,they will still keeep visiting shrines and places like Bheema Mosque

    Comment by Nimmy — November 2, 2008 @ 10:34 am | Reply

  2. Its just a hoax, visit my blog for more in detail…..

    Please comment

    Comment by sinosh — November 24, 2008 @ 12:43 pm | Reply

  3. swamy sharanam … believe god

    there are many facts beyond science .I accept now a days some of the activities of people in the name of god is for money.But u should believe in god for one’s own goodness…

    swamy sharanam

    Comment by vamshi krishna — November 30, 2008 @ 9:03 am | Reply

  4. Hi Vamsi,

    Very true.I completely share your thoughts.


    Comment by Arjun — November 30, 2008 @ 9:07 am | Reply

  5. Hi Arjun,long time no see :)You have been awarded 🙂 Please visit my blog..

    Good day

    Comment by Nimmy — December 11, 2008 @ 8:32 pm | Reply

  6. Hello,


    I know all people talk about Makara Jyothi and want to make a statement in Blog sites that they know the reality,which may be or may not be.Its speculation,no one is ever met the person,who saw the camphor being lit or who was trying to perform Jyothi.I dont disagree,neither I agree.There should be an evidence,its been so many years,that people throng to experience divine Jyothi,there is always a probability of getting to know the truth.The priest who agreed that it was artificial is also only in Blog sites,no one has ever seen the interview in papers or tv.Me being a doctor,educated,blah blah but I believe in Lord Ayyappa,I would not agree neither disagree with Jyothi,I would just wait for an evidence,till then,I am happy believing its divine Jyothi and I dont think its going to harm me or the nation.I dont think so,civil swami,should also crib about it.Its a good thing,swami,with all their mind,body and soul devote to lord for 41 days,its tougher than any other religious practice.It helping the person who is doing it in everyway,why to disturb a belief which is doing good and spreading the message of brotherhood.I am happy being a sincere devotee of Lord Ayyappa,I would encourage others also to experience the joy of this spiritual experience.You will not know,till you don’t do it.You only live once and this is the time.

    Lastly,I would ask one question,how would anyone explain about the star,Uttiram,which is seen minutes before Makara Jyothi,is not there normally,not man made,cannot be artificial…….any answers???

    Swamiye Saranam
    Saranam Ayyappa…………………..Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa……….

    God bless all………………..

    Comment by Rohin — December 19, 2008 @ 7:47 am | Reply

  7. Hi Rohin,

    My intention was in this blog was not to question Swami Ayyappa or his devotees.This was just intended to bring the actual facts.

    As you said star which comes in the sky at that time is called Makarajyothi (not makara vilakku) and by no means is it artificial.It is this star that in olden days people used to consider sacred. But over the years people started considering fire litted in Poonambalamedu as sacred(As I have mentioned earlier its just a continuation of an Adivasi ritual)

    Swami Saranam.

    Comment by Arjun — December 20, 2008 @ 1:45 pm | Reply

  8. It is better if people ,you and me,don’t try to find logic in religion and faith..If it makes us feel good,have peace of mind,and most importantly,doesn’t hurt anybody else,I think it is fine to believe in any crap..Its all personal choice..

    Comment by Nimmy — December 25, 2008 @ 2:32 am | Reply

  9. Dear believers in specific GODS,
    I have read your comments. Yes religion is the biggest business and all cause of troble in this world. The simple difference of opinion about whose God is better and using that tactics to make money is some thing that I oppose. Please visit .I believe in GOD. The reason is I cannot prove God doesn’t exist. Me being a human do not have the thinking or imagining capacity aboutexplaining 99% of I experince in this universe.( time ,space and life).I truely support any one going to sabarimala or any place without spending money( do not give money to priest,do not buy in to the business of aravana, do not pay any entrance fee, exit fee, go there in the cheapest way). otherwise you, like muslims– encouraging terrorism indirectly, in the name of allah, are indirectly harming other human being. Let it be a matter of menta and physical discipline. Not abouut money. Give money to some one that you can help directly– not even to charity– they are business too. keep you money till you can find some who you can help directly. To Mr robin, being a doctor doesnot give you any advantage on this discussion.Consider me also like you.Never encourage the business of religion, that involve money…yes. As many christian pilgrim places, I do not like the business of ayyappan because it differencite bet ween males and females. Yes .. this belief.. harm and separate people and make oppertunity for some bad people and politition to make money.

    Swamiye.. saranam ayyappa…

    From my room of my house….with real devotion and without hurting any human being…

    Tomorrow I will go outside and never try to sell a particular GOD…

    Help people.. if I feel like AND CONVINCED…. after taking care of myself… directly….who are in real need ( FOOD, COMFORT, PLACE TO STAY, MEANS TO MOVE)

    Go to any place…..where I am not stopped because of requirement to serve GOD… where they do not ask for any money…..God do not need money….business need…..( i will clean that place…wil not give money for a cleaner)

    Tell my patients that I will pray to the GOD to give me strenght to take care of you the best…and really pray….

    Swamiye saranam ayyapa ( no money for you— I will keep it until I find some one–who really need help)

    Comment by biju — December 26, 2008 @ 7:01 am | Reply

  10. cvc

    Comment by U.Madan KUmar — January 14, 2009 @ 3:51 pm | Reply

  11. Dear All(Including Hon:Minister-Devawsam)
    I would like to informe all of you that,some(?)years ago the makara jyothi/vilakku had no any relation with sabarimala.that were related with the celebration of PONKAL.later it has been come thru same as.

    Comment by Ayyappan — January 14, 2009 @ 4:01 pm | Reply

  12. Dear All(Including Hon:Minister-Devawsam)
    I would like to informe all of you that,some(?)years ago the makara jyothi/vilakku had no any relation with sabarimala.that were related with the celebration of PONKAL.later it has been come thru same as.
    Further information keep a touch with the below mail ID.

    Comment by Ayyappan — January 14, 2009 @ 4:04 pm | Reply

  13. “Lastly,I would ask one question,how would anyone explain about the star,Uttiram,which is seen minutes before Makara Jyothi,is not there normally,not man made,cannot be artificial…….any answers???”

    – Next year stop all the rituals on that day, the star will appear anyways.

    Comment by shoby — January 18, 2009 @ 9:43 am | Reply

  14. blog once in a while busy man 🙂

    Comment by Nimmy — March 15, 2009 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

  15. Hi Friends, I have been going through all the comments which is nothing but futile.
    GOD is omnipotent and omnipresent,but ayyappan is only for Kerala hindus or even south indian
    hindus.what about the rest of the world.
    There is only one GOD and not crores and people with their brain in the head knows their creator.

    Comment by Rajesh — August 20, 2009 @ 2:05 pm | Reply

  16. Hello everyone.We cannot prove that the god exists, neither we can prove that god doesn’t exist.So its better for us not to talk about religion and god.However, i believe in god and encourage others to believe in god

    Comment by Raghavendra — October 2, 2009 @ 8:00 pm | Reply

  17. Nothing is proved. So no one can say on this. This blog is more a mockery of Hindu belief rather than an attempt to help understand the phenomenon. It might be true that some people look only for monetary benefits out of religious beliefs and it is not only with Hindu organizations. It is true for other religions also and that is not because of the fault of religion but the because of the greed of few.
    If you do not believe that is your decision but please do not try to ridicule.

    Comment by Jinesh — January 5, 2010 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  18. Go and pray lord Ayappan.After all god doesnt need any money from his dieties.The best option is to avoid money and gold as offerings.Jus keep up the faith.

    Comment by praseet — January 14, 2010 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  19. We can understand the intention of the author from the advt (for a Bible website)in this blog.

    Comment by Sanjay — January 14, 2010 @ 4:18 pm | Reply

  20. Dear all,
    I do agree that Makaravilakku is man made. But there is another miracle, nobody is telling about that. From the begining of “Thiruvabharana Goshayathra” one garuda is following it like protector and it will until makarajyothi is finished. Who si sending this Garuda????
    Swamiyyea Saranam Ayyappa……..

    Hava a nice day to all

    Comment by VINOD — January 14, 2010 @ 4:33 pm | Reply

  21. Ok can any one bring more info on the star (Uttharam) -that appears on the Makara Jyothi day.
    1. How does it appear only on the day
    2. How does it disappear right after Aparanam!
    3. Does this star can be seen anywhere else in the world or only from Sabarimala!

    As NASA and European space have researched universe well in detail, if any can bring insight into this star appearance will be great.

    Comment by kalyan k — January 17, 2011 @ 3:06 pm | Reply

  22. Hi All,

    Thanks everyone for finding time to go through the blog.Its more than 2 years since I wrote this blog and after this I have stopped blogging due to various reason.I was not replying many of your comments.

    It looks like most of the readers mostly hindus accuse me of blogging on something without any proof.Some even question my intention and feels its part of an anti-Hindu propaganda.

    First of let me explain the base of the facts.The fact that ‘Makarajyothi is man-made’ was formally announced by Rahul Easwar the grandson of Sabarimala Tantri Kantararu Maheshwararu more than 2 years back in a LIVE malayalam TV debate.Somehow the media(as we have seen in many other cases now) has just swallowed the entire content without further debate.Most of the facts I have written is based on that debate.Regarding the Uthram star, I think its not that the star becomes visible on that day, but Makarajyothi is on that day when the star appears.We have other stars also which are seen only periodically.Regarding ‘Garuda’ coming on the day, I feel there is something fishy about it too.I don’t want to comment more on it as I don’t have anything concrete to say its fake.

    For those who believe this blog part of an anti-hindu propaganda.
    1.Saying that some of our beliefs are wrong doesn’t mean I am against Hinduism. Infact Hinduism always encourages questioning. In Bhagavath Gita Krishna tells Arjuna ‘Dont blindly follow,Critically analyse the facts and allows your conscience to take the decision’.Infact its only religion which doesn’t ask people to “Follow without questioning”.
    2.Someone pointed out about some bible advertisements in my blog.Please tell where are those advertisement.Nowhere can I find any ad in my blog.
    3.Rather than barking at me, if these people are ready to use half that energy to expose minority appeasement policies of various state/central governments of India and to expose the double standard of saffron parties on terrorism India would have been a much place to live.

    Jai Hind
    Swami Saranam

    Comment by arjun2k — January 17, 2011 @ 4:52 pm | Reply

  23. The divan of travancore Sir.C.P.Ramaswamy in 1930s had requested the King to stop fooling pilgrims by burning the makaravilakku.
    Manager of Harrisons and Crosfield Ltd. had written a letter to the Resident, Travancore to stop this nonsense. A large no. of pilgrims then used to walk through their property and were being attacked by wild animals.
    Both these documents should be available in the State Archives. If somebody could get the copies of the same,it would be nice!

    Comment by Manoj Chandran — January 17, 2011 @ 6:18 pm | Reply

  24. punch into google search SABARIMALA MAKARA VILAKKU PARASHURAMA VADAKAYIL to understand what goes on at sabarimala. we should know our own history– not read it from english books


    Comment by CAPT AJIT VADAKAYIL — January 17, 2011 @ 6:52 pm | Reply

  25. All readers,

    Captains blog gives view from a different angle.

    *Note : I am not endorsing or disputing captains view, but felt its a good read.

    Thanks Arjun

    Comment by arjun2k — January 17, 2011 @ 7:06 pm | Reply

  26. I read someone saying that God is omnipotent. That is kind of ridiculous, if we take Omnipotence Paradox into account. Can God create a stone which he/she/it cannot lift?
    People who do not believe in themselves need some kind of external assistance. God is nothing but a fictional character whose only job is to guide and assist “ME”.

    Comment by Jijo Puthooran — October 18, 2011 @ 2:46 pm | Reply

  27. Leave the problem is how did they get the images of shiva,krishna,etc since vedas says that there is no pictures for god,cant see him,no statues for him,etc.please explain.

    Comment by Leave the problem is how did they get the images of shiva,krishna,etc since vedas says that there is no pictures for god,cant see him,no statues for him,etc.please explain. — January 14, 2012 @ 10:27 pm | Reply

  28. Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa
    I have been going to Sabarimala since 1977. I agree that Magara Jyothi is Man Made. But THE FOLLOWING MATTER you have to belive this. From Pandalam THIRUABARANAM is being brought upto Sannithanam for Magara Villakku Festivel on the day of Magara Jyothi. Who has told or organaised the GARUDAN TO COME ROUND the THIRUVABARANAM BOXES.




    Comment by R.D.R.KUBHEINDHRAN — December 8, 2014 @ 4:04 pm | Reply

    • I agree with u sir … i am finding an answer for , why ayyappa devotes should not see dead bodies and ladies which are not in …

      Comment by kesavaram — December 7, 2015 @ 5:57 pm | Reply

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