We see him each year during Durga Puja, performing rituals at his ancestral village in Birbhum. Thus a visit at Padmanabhaswamy temple was overdue for President Pranab Mukherjee, seen here accepting a memento of Lord Vishnu, with Trivandrum MP Shashi Tharoor. -
They were two faces of the Gujarat riots, one a victim, the other the aggressor. But 12 years is a long time, and tailor Qutubuddin Ansari and cobbler Ashok Parmar ‘Mochi’ made peace in Kannur, Kerala, of all places. The two were participating in a seminar, ‘A Decade of Genocide’, organised by our Leftist buddies, the CPI(M). The occasion also saw the launch of the Malayalam edition of Ansari’s biography. Parmar, still tangled up in court cases, blamed the media for “demonising” him, but added that nowadays he devotes much of his time to “promoting Hindu-Muslim amity”. Anyway, apologies done, the event went off well. And Ansari’s bio, which had a print run of a 1,000 copies, sold out on the first day. - Illustration by Sorit
Narendra Modi went all the way down south, to the temple with a treasury, after being declared PM candidate this year. -
To compensate for all the banana skins pacer Sreesanth stepped on during the IPL, this just might have worked—no harm trying anyway. A thulabharam at the Sree Poornathrayeesa temple near Trippunithara. - PTI
Kerala Congress (M) vice-president and chief whip of the UDF government in Kerala, P.C. George, has always had a penchant for getting into all sorts of unsavoury situations. But this time, he’s really stirred things up when with unsuppressed glee he inaugurated the Kerala section of the Narendra Modi campaign’s we-love- Sardar-Patel move, ‘Run for Unity’, organised by the BJP in Kottayam. He even unfolded a T-shirt with Modi’s image on it and held it against himself while the flashbulbs popped away. Of course, all hell broke loose soon after with his party and even Congress leaders frothing in the mouth. An unperturbed PC, though, was soon back on TV and he even had a plausible explanation: “For Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, I would even inaugurate a function held by the Naxalites.” So there. - Illustration by Sorit
No, we won't labour the science-vs-religion trajectory taken every time one of our scientists visits a temple and a photo-op lands up. The Mangalyaan well on its Marsward path, ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan took time out to pray at Sabarimala and take part in Punyam Poongavanam, a daily clean-up carried out during the pilgrim season. - PTI
Thrissur Pooram, Kerala
Raja Rama Varma IX, the legendary Sakthan (‘the powerful’) Thampuran began the tradition of the biggest temple festival in Kerala. It was born of controversy—an alternative for those who couldn’t make it to the Arattupuzha Pooram in the rainy year of 1798. The Thrissur Pooram is now a seven-day celebration in the Malayalam month of Medam (mid-May), beginning with a kodiyettam (hoisting of ceremonial flags), rounds of fireworks, divine music, and magnificently caparisoned elephants leading poorams (processions) to the Vadakkunathan Temple to Shiva at Thrissur. keralatourism.org
‘God’s Own Country’ is renowned for its backwaters. Take a lazy cruise on a houseboat down one of the lagoons and you’ll be at peace. keralatourism.org
The Left Front ‘rapakal samaram’ (day-night agitation) has, literally, run into rough weather in Kerala. Senior leaders had vowed to agitate day and night in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram till solar scam-plagued CM Oommen Chandy resigned. Unfortunately, the rain gods had other ideas. With the clouds pouring down, our comrades found that protest speeches under all those bobbing umbrellas wasn’t getting them anywhere. So a pandal came up, a sumptuous lunch was served and then at night, they settled into their beds. But braving the Kerala monsoon out on the road is no easy task. After shivering through the night, the next morning the comrades decided unanimously to move the rapakal samaram away from the Secretariat and take it “to the smaller cities”. But the monsoon might chase them. - Illustration by Sorit
Vijaya, 27, wife of Chinnaswamy, has two children. She’s very anaemic and has been given blood twice in the recent past. With daughter Ranjitha, 7, and three-month-old son Rajeesh, who is severely underweight. - Sivaram V.
In January, Vasanta, 25, gave birth to a still-born at home. Husband Murugan has been unwell and jobless for months. And Murugan’s blind grandma, Marathi, hasn’t got her old-age pension for awhile now. - Sivaram V.
In the Konni forest, another man, Ayyappan carried his wife Sudha and walked for a day to reach the nearest road and then to the district hospital. The baby died. Ayyappan’s father here at their ramshackle hut. - A.S. Satheesh
Mallika, 29, had four abortions before Bhavani was born. She was eight when she died of internal infections. “I can’t bear to sit in my house. I keep hearing her voice, I don’t want to live,” says Mallika. - Sivaram V.
In Kerala, everyone and his uncle in the ruling UDF seems to have called up alleged conwoman Saritha S. Nair, of solar power scam fame. Some during the day, some at night. Congress home minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan says he called her because he saw a missed call. Some politicos like the in-your-face chief whip P.C. George took pre-emptive measures. At a press conference, he let everyone know that he was in touch with the lady...but it was to discuss her personal problems. Some MLAs have defended themselves, saying they called her to discuss constituency problems. Hopefully, these burn-the-midnight-oil ‘discussions’ have led to changes in the lives of the constituents too. - Illustration by Sorit