What is Makara Jyothi?

What is Makara Jyothi, Makara Jyothi

Makara Jyothi, often associated with the star, is a celebrated event known as Makara Vilakku in Sabarimala. Let's understand the significance of the two words - Makara and Jyothi.

Makara refers to one of the 12 Rasis or Zodiac signs in the sky. The Sun transitions from one Rasi to the next every month, covering all 12 Rasis in a year. According to the Indian calendar, the Sun moves into the Makara Rasi around January 14th or 15th, which is known as Makara Sankranti. This event holds importance in the celestial calendar.

But what makes the Sun's movement into the Makara Rasi special? The Sun constantly moves between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, known as Uttarayanam and Dakshinayanam respectively in the Indian context. Makara Sankranti falls during a period when the Sun, situated in the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere, starts moving northwards towards India. This transition marks the beginning of longer days and signifies the shift from the cold season to warmth. It is this change and a new beginning of the seasonal cycle that we celebrate.

Now let's explore the significance of the word "Jyothi" in relation to Ayyappa, who is worshipped as Makara Jyothi.

During the Sun's presence in the Southern Hemisphere, we experience darker periods. It is in this darkness that Jyothi, or light, illuminates our lives. Ayyappa, as the embodiment of the five primordial elements - Akasha (Space), Vayu (Air), Agni (Fire), Apah (Water), and Prithvi (Earth) - represents the visible aspect of those elements, which is Jyothi or Tejas (fire or light).

In the long dark nights, light becomes prominent. Thus, it is fitting that during these nights, as we celebrate the fresh breath of life, we do so with the symbol of light or Jyothi.

Ayyappa is also known as an embodiment of Dharma, which is not just a noble deed but encompasses the very characteristic of nature itself. The annual celebration of Makara Sankranti directs our attention to the turning of the Sun, the changes occurring in nature, and the hope for new life.

The name Ayyappa in South Indian languages signifies the embodiment of the five primordial elements that constitute the universe or Prapancha. Celebrating Makara Sankranti in association with Ayyappa emphasizes our acknowledgment that we and everything in this world are composed of these five elements.

When we say "Ayyappa Saranam," we pay homage to these five primordial elements themselves. We pay tribute to Ayyappa, the son of Shiva, the cause of material manifestation, and Vishnu, the all-pervading force that maintains the universe in accordance with its inherent Dharma.

In summary, Makara Jyothi represents the celebration of the Sun's transition into the Makara Rasi and the beginning of longer days. It also symbolizes the light that illuminates our lives in the darkness, and Ayyappa, as Makara Jyothi, embodies the five primordial elements and the essence of Dharma in the Universe and Nature.

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