Makara Jyothi not human creation, but natural phenomenon: TDB

The hallowed celestial light `Makara Jyoti` over the famed Ayyappa shrine at Sabarimala that lakhs of devotees believe is a annual divine phenomenon is `natural` and not a `human creation` the Travancore Devaswom Board told.

Updated: Apr 26, 2011, 00:04 AM IST

Kochi: The hallowed celestial light `Makara
Jyoti` over the famed Ayyappa shrine at Sabarimala that lakhs
of devotees believe is a annual divine phenomenon is `natural`
and not a `human creation`, the Travancore Devaswom Board told
the Kerala High Court on Monday.

The assertion by the Board came amid a renewed debate on
the genuineness of `Makara Jyothi` after the stampede on
January 14 night this year at Pulmedu near the shrine in which
102 pilgrims were killed when thousands of devouts were
returning home shortly after witnessing the spectacle.

"Makara Jyoti is a star and a natural pheonomenon
appearing on the horizon during `Deeparadhana` on Makara
Sankramam day and has nothing to do with `deepam` seen at
Ponnambalamedu. It is not a human creation," R Anitha,
Secretary of TDB, which manages the shrine, submitted in two
counter affidavits in Court.

Anitha denied the allegation that `Makara Jyothi` was an
artifical creation of board officials aided by police and
forest officials. Rationalists have for long alleged it is a
man-lit fire arranged by the temple authorities and government

Soon after the Pulmedu tragedy, TDB in response to
counter affidavits on some petitions had said Makara Jyothi is
the star seen during `Deeparadhana` and was not due to any
human intervention.

The Makara Jyothi, a beacon that fleetingly appears at
dusk on January 14, marks the climax of the two-month
`Makaravilakku` season from mid-November at Sabarimala where
lakhs of pilgrims come for pilgrimage. The light flickers
across the skies above Ponnambalamedu, east of Sabarimala
shrine during the `Makarasamkramam,` a pooja ritual.

"Neither TDB or any of its officials have at any time
conducted propaganda that the light seen at Ponnambalamedu on
Makarasankranthi day is a divine creation. But the fact is
that the light is seen there on `Makara Sankranthi`, an
auspicious day of great religious significance at Sabarimala
and Ponnambalamedu," Anitha submitted.

Kerala Yuktivadi Sangham (Rationalists Association) had
sought a direction to the government to publish the T
Chandrasekhara Menon commision of Inquiry report into the
stampede on Jan 14, 1999, take steps to prevent such tragedies
and to direct the government to refrain from constituting any
Commission of Inquiry to probe into the Pulmedu stampede.

Another petitioner Sreeni Pattathanam had sought a
declaration that participation of government through
departments like Police, Forest, Revenue, Electricity in a
`superstitious` religious event like `Makara Jyothi` is
unconstitutional and violative of Art 27 of the Constitution.

The petitioners had alleged that tribals, who worshipped
at a temple there which subsequently fell into disuse, have
been lighting the lamp there for a long time and that the
Kerala State Electricity Board workers have been doing so
since 1981.

The Kerala High Court during hearings had also asked the
Board if `Makara Jyoti` is man made.

The court`s poser came even as Kerala`s LDF government
ruled out any probe to ascertain the genuineness of the