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Amid poll campaign, Rahul offers prayers at stream in Wayand where his father's ashes were immersed

Press Trust of India  |  Wayanad (Ker) 

Rahul on Wednesday offered prayers for his late father and other ancestors with the 'bali tharpanam' ritual on the banks of Papanasini stream, where the ashes of the former were immersed nearly three decades ago.

Gandhi, who is on a whirlwind two-day tour of as part of Lok Sabha poll campaign and is contesting from Wayanad besides his family bastion Amethi,

took time off his hectic schedule to pay obeisance at the famed near the stream here.

Wearing a traditional dhoti and draping a 'kasavu' (silk) shawl, the 49-year-old prostrated before the sanctum sanctorum and offered 'kanikka' in the temple 'hundi'. After the rituals, he said that standing beside the Papanasini, where his father's ashes were immersed in 1991, "brought back fond memories of him & our time together".

"This beautiful temple & its surroundings are an oasis of peace & serenity," he tweeted

Known as the "Kashi of the South", the Thirunelli temple, located in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains and thick forest, is dedicated to Lord

According to Hindu belief, performing the 'bali tharpanam' (paying obeisance to departed souls) ritual for ancestors in the 'Papanasini', the stream attached to the forest temple, is sacred.

arrived at the forest temple in a helicopter, accompanied by his party leaders, in the morning.

After a brief conversation with the about the rituals and traditions of the ancient shrine, Gandhi proceeded to the sacred stream, located about 700 metres from there.

The security officials had a tough time leading the bare-footed through the undulating terrain, paved with huge rocks and boulders, inside the thick forest, notorious for Maoist presence.

Television visuals showed Gandhi listening to the chanting the mantras and following his instructions to perform the 'tharpanam'.

Besides the rituals for Rajiv Gandhi, rites for Indira Gandhi, former and Rahul Gandhi's grandmother, were also held.

Gandhi spent around 45 minutes at the hill shrine before leaving for a party meeting at Sultan Bathery, around 45 km from Thirunelli.

"Besides Rajiv and Indira, the performed the ritual for the jawans who lost their lives in terror strike and lakhs of party workers who have died," K C Venugopal, who was among those who accompanied Gandhi, later told reporters.

Former Minister said had expressed keen interest to offer prayers at the shrine during his last visit to Wayanad.

"We could not make it last time when he came to submit the nomination papers on April 4 due to security reasons," he said.

"Gandhi really wanted to visit the shrine and perform the ritual at Papanasini where his father's ashes were immersed," Chandy added.

An urn containing the ashes of was brought here in 1991 and was immersed in the 'Papanasini', which translates to 'destroyer of sins'.

was killed in a suicide bomb blast at Sriperumbudur in on May 21, 1991 during an election campaign. Former was shot dead by her body guards on October 31, 1984.

Surrounded by the Kambamala, Karimala and the Varadiga peaks, the near Mananthavady embodies traditional architecture.

The shrine is shielded by 30 granite columns and the ground is paved with huge square pieces of granite.

Gandhi also addressed party workers in Palakkad and Malappuram besides Wayanad on Wednesday.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, April 17 2019. 18:46 IST