Who’ll light makaravilakku?

A RPF officer puts back the coconut pieces to Aazhi at Sannidhanam on Friday.
A RPF officer puts back the coconut pieces to Aazhi at Sannidhanam on Friday.

It appears the makaravilakku festival slated for January 15 is not going to be a smooth affair for Travancore Dewaswam Board (TDB) this year too. If it faced the public ire over a massive stampede last year, this season, it’s run into problems with Mala Arayan Community.
For, Mala Arayas – the tribes who’d traditionally lit the makaravilakku till they’re stripped off their rights – are preparing to invade Ponnambalamedu to assert their right this year which has been denied by the TDB for a few decades now.
Mala Araya Samyuktha Samithi (MASS) affirms its members would light the makaravilakku at Ponnambalamedu while TDB says it won’t tolerate the presence of anyone at Ponnambalamedu including Mala Arayas.
MASS members, in line with their plan, on Saturday will kick-start a deepa-sikha prayanam (torch-yatra). The yatra will cover 100 prominent temples in the State before it would reach Ponnambalamedu on January 15 when the tribes would organize the ritual.
However, the ritual in all probability may turn into a bloody show of strength as TDB president M.Rajagopalan Nair on Friday threatened that the Board won’t allow the tribes to take control of the ritual.
TDB which controls the entire activities at Sabarimala with the help of forest, police and electricity board officials will carry out the rituals as usual, he said. Makaravilakku – the annual ritual at Sabarimala – interestingly had courted controversies all through.
Rationalists have been lambasting TDB and successive State Governments for projecting makaravilakku as a celestial light. TDB, in fact, suffered a huge embarrassment when it’d to admit the controversial light, indeed, was a man-made after last year’s gory stampede.
It was in this backdrop Aikya Mala Araya Maha Sabha and Akhila Thiruvthamcore Mala Araya Maha Sabha joined hands to form MASS to reclaim their right to light the makaravilakku at Ponnambalamedu.
MASS members claim that makaravilakku used to be lit by their ancestors in the past. Stating that it’s their right MASS members say the yatra would bring about a fresh debate on tribal rights.
Accordingly, they’ll begin the yatra from Erumeli and visit the temples in Idukki and Kottayam districts before reaching Ponnambalamed. MASS says TDB played a dirty game and evicted their ancestors from the forest land to take control of the ritual.
“Our ancestors were given the rights by the Pandalam king. Even High court and Pandalam king acknowledged our rights to the ritual. And, TDB has no history”, said general secretary Aikya Mala Araya Maha Sabha P.K.Sajeev.
He further pointed out that Mala Arayas have the right to worship at their traditional temples in the forests going by Forest Right Act 2006. “We’re being kept away by TDB because it thinks we’ll stake claim over Sabarimala temple too”, Sajeev explained.
Nair does admit the ritual of lighting makaravilakku used to be done by the tribes in the past. However, he termed the Mala Arayas’ demand as illogical and stupid. “We resumed the ritual 60 years ago when they discontinued the custom. So, now they’ve no say”, Nair said.
He, however, says the Board would accommodate the tribes who still live at Ponnambalamedu in the ritual, though many see this as a clever move to create rift among the tribes. Rejecting the Board’s conciliatory approach, Sajeev termed it as a mockery of truth.
As the TDB and Mala Arayas prepare for a pitched battle, police officials find themselves in a quixotic situation. Besides ensuring pilgrim safety, they would also need to ensure peace at onnambalamedu where the so-called celestial light would be lit by human hands!
“We’ll do our best. We won’t allow anyone to indulge in violence. We’ll also deploy more police personnel to keep the situation under control. So, anyone violating the law is in for trouble”, warned ADGP P.Chandrasekharan.
MASS members, interestingly, have also received support from Rahul Easwar, the grandson of Kandararu Maheswararu, who was prevented by the TDB from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Sabarimala temple recently.

1 comment:

  1. We must takeback our right to light Makaravilak at Ponnambalamedu.the TDB have no right to say that malayara have no rght in ponnambalamedu for lit Makaravilaku.All malayarayan 's together for achieve our aim.LORD AYYAPPA Always wid us.


۩ Ayyappa DevoteeZ ۩

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