Reciting of epic Ramayana and special prayers marked the beginning of the annual 'Ramayana month' in Kerala today, even as major political parties had dropped plans to observe the month of rituals.
Temples and traditional Hindu houses in the southern state reverberated with the chanting of holy verses of the epic in the morning, ushering 'Karkkidakam,' the last month in the Malayalam calendar.
Elders would chant verses from 'Adhyatma Ramayana,' authored by medieval devotional poet Thunchath Ramanujan Ezhuthachan, in the next 30 days in front of lighted 'nilavilakku' (traditional lamps).
Besides temples, various cultural organisations also arranged 'Ramayana parayanam' (recital) across the state. 'Aanayootu,' a mass feast for elephants, prepared as per ayurvedic tradition, was also held in many temples.
Unlike previous years, the 'Ramayana month' has assumed significance this year after 'Sanskrti Sangh', a pro-left outfit and 'Vichar Vibhag', a Congress-led cultural organisation, had announced their plans to observe the period to counter the attempt to 'hijack' the epic by the Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Though a section of media reported that Communist Party of India-Marxist was sponsoring the programmes of the 'Sanskrti Sangh', the party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had said the outfit was an independent one and the left party had no plans to observe Ramayana month.
Sanskrit Sangh leaders said they would conduct seminars and debates across the state on Ramayana in the coming days.
The Vichar Vibhag' recently decided to drop its plan to hold month-long programmes to mark the 'Ramayana month,' following protests and criticism from a section of leaders of the Congress party.
As part of its programmes, Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor was scheduled to deliver a lecture on the topic 'Ramayana is ours'.
Extending support to Vichar Vibhag move, Tharoor told reporters in Thiruvanthapuram today that he would have attended the programme and there was nothing wrong in organising such initiatives.
"I would have taken part in the Vichar Vibhag's initiative if it was organised," he said.
The former union minister also said there were no differences in his party to fight the 'communal fascist' agendas of BJP.
"My party is united in fighting the communal fascist agendas of BJP. The difference is only regarding the strategies," he said.
'Karkitakam,' is the lean season ahead of 'Chingam' that ushers in Malayalis' most colourful festival of 'Onam.' -- PTI