Makara Jyoti (Light of Capricorn) – Sabarimala Makaravilakku Festival on 14th January 2013 – Millions of pilgrims are expected to witness the famous Sabarimala Makaravilakku at the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in Kerala, India. Makaravilaku – Makara Jyothi marks the end of the Sabarimala Mandala Pooja pilgrimage season. According to the traditional Malayalam panchangam and Vedic astrology, the Makaravilakku pooja will take place at 6:44 PM in the evening. Sabarimala pilgrims will be able to witness the Makarajyothi Anduthram star at the Ponnambalamedu and the Thiruvabharanam (traditional antique gold ornaments brought from the Pandalam Palace) adorned Lord Ayyappa Swamy.
Sabarimala Makarasamkramam (Makara Samkramam) is the time when Lord Surya (the Sun God) moves from Dhanu Rasi to Makaram Rasi. Makarasamkrama Pooja is at Sabarimala temple during this time. Pilgrims will be allowed to climb the Pathinettampadi (the holy 18 steps) after Ucha Pooja. Devotees can witness the most important evening Deeparadhana and Makara Jyothi Darshan. The most interesting feature of deeparadhana is that the Brahminy kite (eagle) is hovers over the Sabarimala Temple indicating to start the auspicious evening deeparadhana on Makaravilakku day. After the deeparadhana, the Makarajyothi star will appear on the sky. Makara Jyothi is worshiped as a part of ritual in Sabarimala Temple on Makara Sankranti on 14 January every year. Devout Hindus believe that the jyothi is a celestial phenomenon and its sighting is auspicious and brings good luck and blessings.
It is said that Lord Sri Rama and his brother Lakshmana met Sabari, an urban devotee, at Sabarimala. Sabari offered the Lord fruits after tasting them. But the Lord accepted them gladly and whole-heartedly. The Lord then turned and saw a divine person doing tapas. He asked Sabari who it was. Sabari said it was Sasta. Rama walked towards Sasta and the latter stood up to welcome the Prince of Ayodhya. The anniversary of this incident is celebrated on Makara Vilakku day. It is believed that on Makara Vilakku day, Lord Dharmasasta stops his tapas to bless his devotees.
Another popular mythical belief is that the Makara Vilakku is lit there in commemoration of the aarathi performed by Dev rishis and Devas at the time of revelation of His Divine form (Roopa) by Manikantan (an incarnation of Sasta). This event marks the culmination of the long and arduous pilgrimage to Sabarimala shrine. The light disappears in the evening after the Thiruvaabharanam (divine ornaments) are brought into the sanctum sanctorum and are placed on the Lord. The most significant rituals of worship are performed at the day of Makara Sankaranthi.