With an estimated 45-50 million pilgrims arriving each year, the Sabarimala Pilgrimage is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world. Yet, it is completely unknown to most of the world outside southern India. Every January, hindus belonging to the Ayappa cult undertake the pilgrimage to Sabarimala to witness the "Makhara Jyoti" - a red star that shines for a couple of seconds every year and which can only be seen from a special mountaintop. This celestial star is believed to be the Hindu-god Ayappa revealing himself in the form of fire. The sighting of this "Darshan" (vision of the Divine) is believed to give you divine blessings. Following the sighting, there is an enormous celebration. Unlike other hindu-festivals, there are no creeds or castes at Sabarimala - everyone is equal at the holy hillock.
By Paul Patrick Borhaug —
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