File petition on Makara Jyothi in high court: Apex court

Saturday, February 26, 2011

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition seeking directions to the Kerala government and the Sabarimala Shrine Board to stop defrauding devotees by presenting ‘Makara Jyothi’ as a divine miracle, saying the matter can be raised in the state high court.

The apex court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Panickar Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar Friday dismissed the plea as withdrawn but allowed petitioner, Sanal Edamaruku the liberty to approach the high court which was already seized of three similar matters.

However, Justice Radhakrishnan noted that the Sabarimala Shrine Board has already come out in the open stating that ‘Makra Jyothi’ was a man-made creation and was no celestial miracle that occurs on Makrasankranti/Makaravilsaaku day every year.

Edamaruku has sought the court’s direction to the Kerala government, Travancore Devaswom Board, Kerala State Electricity Board and the state forest department to stop lighting of the fire at Ponnambalamedu on Makaravilsakku day to defraud the religious devotees, mostly from south Indian states and Maharashtra, by presenting it as a miracle.

Sabarimala shrine of Lord Ayyappan is one of the revered places of worship for the believers from Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Located on the Western Ghats, Sree Swamy Ayyappa temple is surrounded by forest area and hilly terrain.

Edamaruku said it is a popular belief, nurtured by commercial considerations, that on the day a light is seen glowing in the distant hill and flickers three time before disappearing. It is believed that it is through this light that Lord Ayyappan shows his presence gracing his devotees, the petition said.

Millions of people throng the hill shrine (Sabarimala temple) every year just to witness this miracle divine light or ‘Makra Jyothi’. Some of the devotees hold on to a vantage position for several days to witness the event.

However, the petition said that this fire is a creation of a joint venture of the employees of the Kerala State Electricity Board, Travancore Devasom Board, state police and the forest department.

The modus operandi, according to Edamaruku, a resource person of National Science Centre and president, Indian Rationalist Association, is that camphor is put in a huge vessel, lit and then covered with a blanket to create a blinking effect. However, before the camphor is lit, the entire area is cordoned off. This, the petitioner said, came to light after some of the people who participated in the manmade fire confessed to it publicly.

Edamaruku also cited academician P.M. Rajan Gurukkal, the current vice chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University at Kottyam, who has described Makara Jyothi as one of the “biggest ritualistic fraud in the country which has a disastrous social and ecological impact. On that day, people remain in vulnerable position unmindful of danger to see state-sponsored magic”.

The petition also argued that because of such man-generated divine lights, gullible devotees get carried away and it results in incidents such as the stampede on Jan 14, 2011 resulting in the death of 102 people.

Edamaruku said such incidents have taken place in the past also.

Filed under: Religion

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