Makara Jyothi, a celestial phenomenon with deep roots in both astronomy and religious tradition, has gained prominence through its association with the revered Sabarimala temple and the worship of Lord Ayyappa. While the event is colloquially referred to as the Sabarimala Makara Jyothi, its astronomical underpinnings extend beyond the religious rituals observed during this auspicious occasion.

The term 'Makara' corresponds to the zodiac sign Capricorn, positioned as the 10th in the sequence of the 12 zodiac signs. 'Jyothi,' derived from Sanskrit, translates to 'flame' or 'light.' Consequently, 'Makara Jyothi' can be interpreted as 'the light of Capricorn.'

The Sun's annual journey through the zodiac signs brings it into Makara Rasi, or the zodiac sign Capricorn, typically around the 14th or 15th of January. This occasion, known as Makara Sankranthi, marks an auspicious period during which people engage in purifying rituals, holy baths, and special prayers to Sun God and other deities. It is also celebrated as a harvest festival named 'Pongal' in Tamil Nadu and holds cultural significance across various regions in India.

As the Sun enters Makara Rasi, it begins to shine from this zodiac sign, casting its light upon the world. This natural phenomenon is recognized as Makara Jyothi. From an astronomical perspective, this light is attributed to the luminous star Sirius in the star constellation Canis Major, visible in mountainous regions around mid-January.

The profound religious significance of Makara Jyothi is closely intertwined with the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. Devotees believe that the first ray of the Sun after entering Makara Rasi represents Makara Jyothi, a divine occurrence symbolizing the Lord's presence. This celestial lighting, visible around sunset on the evening of Makara Shankaranthi, is worshipped by the faithful during the annual Sabarimala pilgrimage.

While astronomy provides a logical explanation for the luminous star observed during Makara Jyothi, the devout hold steadfast to their belief in the divine nature of this occurrence. The confluence of astronomy and religious tradition adds a layer of complexity to this celestial event, making it a unique phenomenon celebrated with reverence and devotion.

In essence, Makara Jyothi serves as a bridge between the scientific realm of celestial movements and the spiritual tapestry of religious rituals, showcasing the intricate interplay between tradition and natural occurrences.

Image Credit / Source :Latestly