Makaravilakku Sabarimala festival calendar 2014 15 16

Makaravilakku Sabarimala festival calendar 2014 15 16

Makaravilakku is an auspicious festival which is celebrated on annual basis in the well known Ayyappa temple located at Sabarimala in the Indian state of Kerala. The festive celebrations are spread over a period of 7 days and Makaravilakku day is celebrated with huge grandeur. The beginning of the festival is marked on the fortunate day of Makara Sankranthi which is the day on which sun is present in summer crest. This is also regarded as the first day of Makaram month according to the Malayalam calendar.

The festival of Makaravilakku marks the celebrations of the day on which Dharma Sastha or Lord Ayyappa’s idol was enshrined in the holy temple. This is one of the most important and the most awaited festivals of the region which is conducted at Sabarimala. Devotees in large number gather in the temple’s premises to become a part of the Makaravilakku celebrations every year. The pooja extends over a period of 41 days before the celebration of Makara Sankranthi.

Importance of Sabarimala Shrine

The famous Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala lying in the Pathanamthitta district of Indian state of Kerala is believed to be one of the most revered pilgrimage centers. Lord Ayyappa, alternatively known as Dharma Sastha is the presiding deity of the Sabarimala shrine. Lord Ayyappa is the symbol of unity between Saivites and Vaishnavites. This is because according to a legend it is believed that Lord Ayyappa was born from the union of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu when the lateral took the avatar of the seductress, Mohini.

While meditating, Lord Shiva was mesmerized by the beauty of Mohini and thus Ayyappa was born. Ayyappa is also known as “Hari Hara Putra” where Hari denotes Vishnu, Hara symbolizes Shiva and Putra means son. The Sabarimala shrine attracts lakhs of devotees each year from all over the country who come here to seek lord’s blessings. People belonging to the southern states of India celebrate this pooja with huge pomp and show.

What makes this shrine more interesting is its location. It is located on rugged terrain of the Western Ghats present in the region. Devotees have to cross this patch of terrine on foot as there is no other means of transport available. High spirited devotees visit this shrine with faith in their heart and can easily reach till the temple. Sometimes pilgrims also have to face wild animals as the way leading to the temple passes through dense forests.

Adventure lovers can feel the adrenaline rush in their body by covering the 5 km stretch that starts from Pamba till the shrine. This stretch can be passed only by trekking and thus offers them a chance to indulge in some adventure activity. The pilgrimage to this shrine is open from November to January and for the rest of the year it remains closed.

Celebrations and ceremonies

Makaravilakku is celebrated on large scale with a large number of ceremonies and celebrations being held. One of the most important and interesting ceremony of the festive celebration is bringing the deity’s jewelry, Thirivabharanam, three days before Makara Sankranthi from Pandalam palace. The sacred jewelry of the lord is kept safe in a box and is carried out in a royal procession. Devotees in large number line up on both the sides of the route to catch a glimpse of the box carrying the jewelry. Head priest or oracle carries the sacred box on his head throughout the procession.

The priest moves frantically amidst thousand of devotees and dances to the tune of the music playing in the background but the box remain in its position as if it has been glued on the head of the priest. The procession halts at various temples that come on its ways and finishes at Sabaripettam on the Makara Sankranthi eve. The procession then moves toward Sannidhanam with music, mesmerizing lights and dancing devotees making up for the backdrop.

Pilgrims can witness a strange phenomenon that occurs during this time. All of a sudden, an eagle appears and starts hovering above box containing the sacred jewelry. This incident is received well by the pilgrims who get filled with joy. The jewelry in the box consists of gold bracelets, diamond crown, lord’s sword, gold images of horse, leopard and elephant, precious gems studded necklaces and silver arrows. People in large number gather to get a glimpse of the dazzling and fully ornamented deity.

Another spectacular event that catches the attention of the devotees is the appearance of Makarajyothi on Ponnambala Medu from the north east horizon. Chants of “Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa” can be heard loud and clear as the devotees are overjoyed to witness the strange occurrence.

Makara vilakku ceremonies and poojas are conducted on sacred platform, known as Manimandapa, near the Devi shrine. A picture of Sastha riding on the back of a leopard is also kept in the vicinity. After the pooja is finished, Malikappurath Amma is mounted on the back of an elephant and the procession is carried on with drummers, torch bearers and buglers to Pathinettampadi. The demonstration halts at different places and returns to the premises of the main temple after making calls for Vettavili.

The celebrations continue for seven days at a stretch and conclude with Guruthi. In this part of the procession, offerings are made to the deity. As a tradition, nobody is allowed to stay inside the temple after Guruthi and the premises are vacated.

On Makaram morning which is the last day of celebrating Makara Vilakku, a Ganapati Homam is performed at the shrine. Later on all the Thiruvabharanams are removed. After conducting some rituals, the procession prepares for its return journey to the temple along with Thiruvabharanam.

This festival can leave some memorable memories with the visitors who are planning a trip to Kerala during this time.


  • When to celebrate Makara Vilakku Pooja in 2014:

14 January marks the celebrations of Makara Vilakku Pooja

  • When to celebrate Makara Vilakku Pooja in 2015:

14 January marks the celebrations of Makara Vilakku Pooja

  • When to celebrate Makara Vilakku Pooja in 2016:

14 January marks the celebrations of Makara Vilakku Pooja