Makara Sankranti marks the transition of the Sun into Makar Rasi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. This is significant considering the Winter Solstice marks the beginning of the gradual increase of the duration of the day. Scientifically, the shortest day of the year is around December 21st-22nd after which the days begin to get longer, hence actual Winter Solstice begins on December 21st or December 22nd when the tropical sun enters Makara rashi. Hence actual Uttarayana is December 21st. This was the actual date of Makar Sakranti too. But because of the earth’s tilt of 23.45 degrees and sliding of Equinoxes, Ayanamasha occurs. This has caused Makara Sankranti to slide further over the ages. A 1000 years ago, Makar Sankranti was on Dec 31st and is now on January 14th. 5000 years later, it shall be by the end of February, while in 9000 years it shall come in June. Traditionally, this has been one of many harvest days in India.

Just as it happens every year, this time also Makara Jyothi appeared at Ayyappa Temple of Sabarimala on 14th January, the Day of Makara Sankranthi.I always wondered about this ‘miracle’ and once was told that this was the fire lit by human beings by burning camphor and is carried out as part of the rituals. I was stunned as it was completely contrasting with the general view that the light is ‘miraculous’ and ‘divine’. When asked about this, an old devotee of Ayyappa agreed that it is man-made light and also that he knows the fact. On the contrary, the media gave the live telecast of the Makara Jyothi and claimed it to be ‘divine appearance’, even this year.

There are many rumours that the “Makara jyothi” is a man-made miracle or a light that has been lit by man and travels from one part of the hill to another in such a way that it shows that the light is travelling by itself. But there are some people who believe it to be a miracle Or is it so?

The fact is that the light is generated by the camphor-lit fire as part of the rituals held every year during Makara Sankranthi. The fire is lit at the Ponnambalamedu Hills which lies exactly opposite to the Sabarimala Hills where Ayyappa Temple is located. The fire is lit as soon as the deity is decorated with the ornaments and pooja is started. The older generation and the local people know this fact, but from unknown source, a myth is generated that the light is miraculous and the credulous devotees coming from different parts of the country believe it to be divine. This has also been confirmed by a person from the Management of the Sabrimala Devasthana after which he was sacked from his job to make the fact public in newspapers.

Even though every one knows the fact why does the Temple Authority and the Government of Kerala (as the temple is managed by the Govt.) preserve this myth when they know that what people believe and what is shown in media is wrong? Why can’t they clarify that the light is man-made? The reason behind this is that the revenue that the Ayyappa Devotees generate during the month of January and particulary on January 14th alone is atleast 2-3 times more than the revenue generated by tourists in the month of April and May!!!! Now, Will you risk losing such a huge income for just to make sure that people do not believe in all the rumours or myths going around the temple!!!!!!!