Rahul offers prayers for his father in Wayand

Wayanad: Congress president Rahul Gandhi yesterday performed the ‘bali tharpanam‘ ritual on the banks of Papanasini stream near the Thirunelli temple for his late father Rajiv Gandhi and other family ancestors.

The stream is special as the ashes of the former prime minister were immersed in it in 1991.

Rahul, who is also contesting from Wayanad is on a 2-day trip to Kerala as part of Lok Sabha poll campaign.

The Congress chief was seen wearing a traditional dhoti and a ‘kasavu‘ (silk) shawl. He had a brief conversation with the priest about the rituals and traditions of the temple and proceeded to the sacred stream. It was reported that the security officials had a tough time leading the bare-footed leader through the thick forest. Television also visuals showed Gandhi listening to the priest chanting the mantras and following his instructions to perform the ‘tharpanam‘.

He prostrated before the sanctum sanctorum and offered ‘kanikka‘ in the temple ‘hundi‘. Besides the rituals for his father, prayers for Indira Gandhi and Army jawans who lost their lives in Pulwama terror strike and lakhs of party workers who have died were also held. He spent around 45 minutes in the shrine. He stated that standing beside the Papanasini brought back fond memories of him and hi father together.

The Thirunelli temple dedicated to Lord Maha Vishnu is known as the Kashi of the South and is located in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains and thick forest.

It is considered sacred to perform the ‘bali tharpanam‘, that is, paying obeisance to departed souls, in the ‘Papanasini‘.

Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Rahul Gandhi 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.

NT Bureau