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Marxist leader undertakes padyatra to Sabarimala
December 31, 2007 14:18 IST
Last Updated: December 31, 2007 14:58 IST
Creating history by becoming the first Marxist leader to visit the famed Sabarimala temple, 84-year-old Kerala [Images] Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan trekked an eight-km-long dense forest route to have a first hand knowledge of the problems faced by the devotees.
Velikakathu Shankaran Achuthanandan, popularly known as 'Comrade VS,' heading the CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front government, reached the Sabarimala hilltop on Sunday night after a three-hour-long walk along with thousands of pilgrims pouring into the shrine to have a 'darshan' of Lord Ayyappa during the peak pilgrimage season.
Not showing any strains of the long trekking, Achuthanandan, who is also a regular practitioner of Yoga, presided over a series of meetings with the temple officials this morning and announced a master-plan to develop this remote shrine, currently attracting lakhs of pilgrims from all over the country.
Devotees observe a 48-day strict regime before making their pilgrimage, carrying 'erumudi' (offerings) on their heads.
The shrine believed to have been existing since 1200 AD, also represents a secular character as devotees first offer worship at the mosque of Vavar, a Muslim associate of Ayyappa.
Though the shrine is open to people from all religions, women in the age group of 10-50 are however, banned from entering it.
Achuthanandan made the visit following a spate of complaints leading to vocal protests by the devotees about poor arrangements, including distribution of 'aravana prasadam.'
He told media persons before leaving the shrine that the works for improving various amenities at Sabarimala under the master-plan will be implemented on a time-bound basis.
Achuthanandan said steps had been taken to resolve the shortage of 'aravana' prasadam.
"With the completion of master-plan, the difficulties felt by Ayyappa devotees during their journey to the hill-top would be over," he said.
The master-plan envisages, among other things, setting up resting centres, toilet facilities and drinking water provision along the forest route.