Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 31 (Agencies): Amidst calls seeking ban on the 'Makara Jyothi' of Sabarimala temple, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) on Monday said it most believers knew that it was a man lit-fire, but there was a Hindu belief behind it.

"It is known to everybody that Makara Jyothi is a fire lit up by men at Ponnabalamedu and TDB also recognises this', TDB President M Rajagoplan Nair told reporters here on Monday. 

However, he said, he rejected demands to run a campaign to propagate that it was man-made as there was a belief behind it into which the temple board did not intend interfere , he said.

Kerala High Court had recently asked TDB to clarify whether the Makara Jyothi is man made or a celestial phenomenon, in the wake of the Pullumedu stampede in which 102 devotees died on Janauary 14 when were returning after witnessing the jyothi.

Nair was briefing media after the discussions the board had with high priests, members of the Travancore and Pandalam Royal Houses and authorities on temple rituals.

‘Not changing Sabarimala rituals’
He denied that the Makara Jothi was the main agenda of the meeting, but other issues like whether the temple should be opened for throughout the year for devotees so as to avoid huge rush during the two-month pilgrimage season starting from mid-November.

The board decided not to open the temple throughout the year as that would be against the unique traditions and customs of the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa.

The authorities concerned were also not in favour of the proposal to broaden the "holy 18 steps" leading to the shrine since altering it was against principles of temple design.

It was pointed out in the meeting that the "18steps" had divinity attached to them and making any alteration would not be right.

The views that emerged would now be discussed and finalised by the board, and, based on it, a report would be submitted the High court.

Temple High Priest Kandararu Rajivaru and Vasuthu Expert Kannipayur Narayanan Namboothri were among those present at the meeting.