Friday, January 14, 2011

Magara Vilakku

Makaravilakku is a festival held on January 14 of every year in Kerala, India at the shrine of Sabarimala. The Thiruvabharana procession is one of the important features of the Makaravilakku festival, the second part of the annual congregation is at the hill shrine of Sabarimala. An estimated half a million devotees flow to Sabarimala every year to have a darshan (vision) of this ritual.

Sabarimala (Malayalam: ശബരിമല, Tamil: சபரிமலை) is a Hindu pilgrimage center located in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta District in Kerala. Sabarimala is believed to be the place where Ayyappan meditated after killing the powerful demoness, Mahishi. Lord Ayyappan's temple is situated here amidst 18 hills. The temple is situated on a hilltop at an altitude of 468 m above mean sea level, and is surrounded by mountains and dense forests. Temples exist in each of the hills surrounding Sabarimala. While functional and intact temples exist at many places in the surrounding areas like Nilackal, Kalaketi, and Karimala, remnants of old temples survive to this day on remaining hills.

Sabarimala is lined to Hindu pilgrimage; Ayyappan Devotees must go at least once in their lifetime and it is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world with an estimated 45–50 million devotees visiting every year. Women between the ages of 10 and 50 are not allowed to enter the temple, since the story attributed to Lord Ayyappa prohibits the entry of the women in the menstrual age group. This is because Ayyappan is a Bramachari (Celibate). The temple is open for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja (approximately November 15 to December 26), Makaravilakku (January 14- "Makara Sankranti") and Vishu (April 14), and the first five days of each Malayalam month.




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