The pilgrimage to Sabarimala begins on the 1st Vrichikam, a month of Malayalam that will take place in mid-November (probably between 14 and 17). The most important day for Ayyappan is the Makarasankranti day, which is the 1st of Makara (a month in Malayalam calendar). This day will fall between January 14th and 16th.
Every year in Makarasankranti, miraculous events happen without fail. First, while the jewels of the Lord (Thiruvabharanam) are being transported from the ancient Pandalam Palace to Sabarimala, a Krishnaparunth (Sacred Garuda – an eagle – the vehicle of Lord Vishnu) – surrounds the precious jewels as a protector.
This rare eagle is rarely seen among people for a long time. However, this auspicious bird follows the procession of Thiruvabharanam and ends up circling nine times on Sannidhanam in Sabarimala while paying tribute to Lord Ayyappan. During this time, there is not a single star in the sky, except for a special star (Nakshatram) – Makara Jyothi. While the beautiful jewels are placed in the Lord’s golden body inside the temple, the hundreds of thousands of faithful who are outside, crammed into any free space available, chant “Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa” .
When the jewels are finally adorned on the Lord, the star (Nakshatram) in the sky miraculously disappears. Moments after the Lord has disarmed the Thiruvabharanam, an effulgence (Makaravilakku) appears on the opposite hills of Sabarimala, shining 3 times. This hill is called Ponnambalamedu.
Devotees can see the Makaravilakku from 9 locations in Sannidhanam and surrounding areas. hey are Sannidhanam, Paandithavalam, Pulmedu, Saramkuthi, Neelimala, Marakootam, Hilltop, Chalakayam, and Attathodu.