Tribesmen seek right to light lamp at Sabarimala
Kottayam: The `Mala Araya Mahasabha` (community
of tribals) has appealed to the Travancore Devaswom Board,
which runs the Sabarimala shrine, to restore their right to
light the holy lamp at Ponnambalamedu on Makaravilakku day
during the pilgrimage season.
Since all relevant truths related to lighting of the lamp
on Makaravilakku day, which falls on January 14, stand
settled, the tribesmen should get the right to perform the
ritual, P K Sajeev, MAM Secretary told reporters here.
He claimed the tribesmen were denied the rights to light
the lamp with the setting up of the TDB in 1922.
Welcoming the statement of Tantric Kandararu family
members, who have the right to perform poojas at Sabarimala
temple, that Makaravilakku (deepam) was man-made, Sajeev said
rituals should be performed jointly by the temple priest
and Mala Araya community members at Sabarimala.
The tribesmen, who were dwelling in and around 18 hills in
Sabarimala region, were asked to vacate the area by Devaswom
and forest officials, he alleged.
On April 25, the TDB, which administers the hill shrine,
admitted in the High Court that the celestial light "Makara
Deepam" over the famous Lord Ayyappa temple that many believe
is a divine phenomenon, was man-made.
The disclosure made by TDB in counter affidavits said
the `Makarajyothi is the `star` seen at the time of
Deeparadhana and it is not due to any human intervention.
It submitted that the popular belief is that tribals
residing there light the lamp at Deeparadhana time in memory
of the religious rites performed there earlier. The light was
being seen even before the Board`s formation in 1949.
"It is well known that adivasis were performing poojas
earlier at Ponnamabalamedu and it is even now being continued
through other agencies", the affidavit by TDB said.
The Board`s assertion came amid a fresh debate on
the genuineness of the celestial light after the stampede on
January 14 night this year at Pulmedu near the shrine in which
102 pilgrims were killed when thousands of devotees were
returning home shortly after witnessing the spectacle.
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