Updated 23 February 2014.
I received information from a Reader through Facebook that Indian Express Newspaper Reporter has clicked a Photo of people lighting the Makara Jothi.Unfortunately he has not been able to get it from the IE archives.
Instead he forwarded me a Link which I am providing below..
The Media and individuals who are sceptical of the Makarajyothi have disputed it. According to them the light is an artificial fire clandestinely lit by the officials of Sabarimala temple, the Travancore Devaswom Board and Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) in connivance with some of the forest and police officials. It is created by burning a large quantity of camphor cubes kept in a silver platter. Several correspondents have visited the hill station where the camphor-fire is lit is claimed to be in the control of the forest department of the Government of Kerala.
A number of attempts have been made by rationalists, other individuals, and Media to find out the truth behind this miracle and to give a natural explanation to it.
In 1973 about 24 persons from the Kollam district of Kerala reached Ponnambalamedu hills where the light appreared and bursted fire crackers. They were later taken into custody by the police after a complaint (“defiling the sanctity of Ponnambalamedu”) was lodged by B. Madhavan Nair, the then chairman of Travancore Devaswam Board. Since they did not commit any crime under the Indian Penal Code, they were to be released unconditionally. In 1980, a group of rationalists from Trichur also visited Ponnambalamedu and reported about it.”
Link to the above information does not seem to work.
Even in this article there is NO evidence that the Makara Jothi is Man Made.
Please read below towards the closing of the post on Makara Jothi and Makara Vilakku.
Makara Jothi is an unexplained Phenomenon while Makara Vilakku is lit on the Ponnambla Medu by the Devaswam Board .
I have visited Sabarimalai about 15 times and had Darshan of the Jyoti in 1971.
The light could have been due to Astronomical phenomena at the time of Sun changing Signs.
I have ascertained through extensive study that no Astronomical/Star/Electrical/Magnetic activity is associated with the appearance of the Jyothi at the latitude/longitude at the site.
The other reason is people light camphor or other materials.
If you look at the jyothi,it appears thrice in immediate succession, with not enough time in between to light by man thrice.
The jyothi’s shape is some thing that does not indicate man made fire.
It bobs ans skims in the sky;this again is not possible if the jyothi is man made.
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE / Hamlet Act 1. Scene V abt. 1601
Every year, lakhs of pilgrims – mostly from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — throng to the hill temple to witness the divine light that pops up three times soon after the deeparadhana (the ceremony of showing lighted camphor to the idol of Ayyappa) at around 7 pm.
This year too, the transition of the rashi from Dhanu to the auspicious Makara (the Malayalam month of Makara) took place at 6.44 pm Friday and this was followed by the deeparadhana at 6.50 pm.
At 7.07 pm, the first blob of light popped up on Ponnabalamedu as lakhs of pilgrims chanted the Ayyappa Sharanam mantra. Within minutes, two more episodes of the `divine’ light appeared against the backdrop of a pitch dark winter sky.
Critics, including a few Ayyappa devotees, have of late questioned the appearance of the divine light. A few, who had studied the `phenomenon’ and got `evidence’, had come to the conclusion that there was nothing divine or mysterious about the light. The Ponnambalamedu is a thick forested area and is closely guarded by the State Forest Department and the Electricity Board. Nobody is allowed to go to the area.
Sources say that atop the Ponnambalamedu there was a small temple that was once the centre of worship of a few tribes who prayed and paid their respects to Ayyappa once a year by lighting camphor and wood.
After the tribes vanished and were `consumed’ by modernisation, officials of the electricity board continued lighting huge amounts of camphor on Makara 1 or January 14 every year.
Now, sources say, the tribal temple has vanished and a huge concrete platform has been constructed. Huge heaps of camphor are put into large bowls and lighted. Soon, the flames are extinguished using large wet sacks. After a few minutes, it is lit again and the process goes on for two more times.
Recently, the Kerala government and the temple authorities admitted for the first time the Jyothi was not a celestial occurrence but a fire lighted by men.
Devaswom Minister G Sudhakaran openly said: “I was present on the Makaravillukku day at the Sabarimala last season. I saw the celestial star and it is at that very time that Makaravilakku is lighted. There is no doubt about it that it is lighted by the men.”
Rahul Easwar, grandson of Sabarimala chief priest, later said: “It’s a misunderstanding in the mind of misinformed people not informed devotees. Makarajyothi is different and Makaravillkku is different that’s why there are two names. Makarajyothi is a celestial star while Makaravillakku is symbolic lighting of lamp in place called Ponambalamedu, where there was a temple earlier.”
An embarrassed Devaswom Board, which administers the temple and earns crores during the Jyothi season, said it had absolutely no role in lighting Makaravillaku as it happens in a jungle, which is not under the Board’s control.
Ponnambalamedu is about 4 Km away from the Sabarimala temple and very close to Kochupamba Power Substation which supplies power to Sabarimala. It is under the control of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB).
There is just one rough road that leads to Ponnambalamedu and this is closely guarded by the Forest Department officials. Ponnambalamedu is at an elevation of 1170m above MSL and Sabarimala is just 544m – making the view of the Jyothi very clear.
While the Jyothi may be man-made, the appearance of `Garuda’ — an eagle – is still a mystery. The eagle escorts the Thiruvaabharanam (the box that carries the ornaments for Ayyappa) from the royal palace in Pandalam and then vanishes. It comes back then the ornaments are taken from Sabarimala to Pandalam.
So why are the authorities keeping silent on the divine light. It is pure commerce. The State earns crores during the Sabarimala Jyothi pilgrimage season. According to the figures provided by the Devasom, collections at the temple had crossed Rs.131 crore as of Thursday, while last season it was Rs.120 crore during the same period. All this may go up in flames if there is an official denial.
While the Dewasom earns in crores, the devotees are put to hardships. The authorities charge Rs 350 for rooms with the promise of cots and beds. But in reality, there are no cots, the toilets are dirty and the authorities collect Rs 600 to 900 unofficially.
The money for annadhanam is not properly accounted; those who pay in thousands get priority for darshan and there is large scale pilferage and kickbacks in construction projects.
Will the stampede open the proverbial can of worms?
This article does not advance arguments or proof that the Light is man-made.
Why the provocative title?
Please read my blog on makara jothi 2011for unbiased writing.