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Achuthanandan first communist chief minister to visit Sabarimala


Sabarimala (Kerala) : V.S. Achuthanandan has become the first communist chief minister of Kerala to visit the famed Sabarimala temple.

Since 1957, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leaders have headed Kerala on nine occasions with E.K. Nayanar being in the chief minister’s chair three times and E.M.S. Nampoothiripad and C. Achutha Menon serving for two tenures. But Achuthanandan Sunday became the first to have paid a visit to the Sabarimala temple dedicated to lord Ayyappa.

Devotees from across the country visit the temple between November and January.

Achuthanandan, 84, showed no sign of any discomfort and completed the five-kilometre trek from the base camp at Pamba to the hilltop in less than four hours.

CPI-M legislator Raju Abraham who accompanied Achuthanandan on the trip told IANS: “On his way up and on his return he was given the traditional vedi vazhipadu (bursting of crackers) greeting by temple officials.”

After inaugurating a 23-bed hospital at the hilltop Monday, Achuthanandan requested the Travancore Devasom Board that runs the temple to give Rs.1 million to the kin of those pilgrims who die during the pilgrimage.

Ever since this year’s pilgrimage season began, Sabarimala has been plagued by controversies, which include a row over the supply of ‘prasadam’ at the famed Sabarimala temple.

For well over a month after the temple opened for pilgrims, the supply of prasadam was restricted because of short supply of prasadam cans.

“The supply has now been almost regularised with every devotee being given up to six cans of prasadam and by next week the restriction is going to be lifted,” said Abraham.