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Rahul offers prayers at stream in Kerala's Wayanad where father's ashes were immersed

Press Trust of India  |  Wayanad (Ker) 

Wednesday performed the 'bali tharpanam' ritual for his late father and other ancestors on the banks of the 'Papanasini' here, nearly three decades after the ashes of former were immersed in the sacred stream.

Gandhi, who is on a whirlwind two-day tour in as part of Lok Sabha poll campaigns, took time off his hectic schedule to offer prayers at the famed and performed the sacred ritual to pay obeisance to the ancestors of seven generations.

Known as the "Kashi of 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.

Gandhi, who is contesting polls from the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency this time, besides his family bastion Amethi, arrived at the forest temple in a helicopter, accompanied by his party leaders, in the morning.

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 having a brief conversation with the about the rituals and traditions of the ancient shrine, 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 as the chanted the mantras and followed 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 the Sultan Bathery, around 45 km from Thirunelli.

"Besides Rajiv and Indira, the performed the ritual for the jawans who lost lives in the Pulwama 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 they were 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.

Surrounded by the Kambamala, Karimala and the Varadiga peaks, the near Mananthavady embodies traditional architecture, according to the Tourism Department website.

The shrine, nestled in the scenic mountains, is shielded by 30 granite columns and the ground is paved with huge square pieces of granite.

Gandhi, who addressed four poll rallies Tuesday, would address 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. 15:36 IST