Rahul Gandhi offered prayers at the famous Thirunelli temple in Kerala's Wayanad today and performed rituals in memory of his late family members. The Congress president has a personal connection with the hill town as it was here that his father, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's ashes were immersed.
An urn containing the ashes of Rajiv Gandhi was taken to Wayanad in 1991 and they were immersed in Papanasini, a holy stream connected to the famous temple of lord Vishnu in the picturesque village of Thirunelli. "Wayanad is more than a constituency for CP @RahulGandhi it holds a deep & meaningful connection to his father," Rahul Gandhi's office in Wayanad tweeted.
"As per the priest's directions, he has performed all rituals for his grandmother (Indira Gandhi), father, forefathers, and victims of Pulwama attack," Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal, who was among those who accompanied Mr Gandhi to the temple and the stream.
Dressed in white mundu or dhoti and wearing an angavastra, Mr Gandhi walked to the temple from the temple body guest house.
He took note of every detail told to him by the temple priests and then prayed to the deity. He, along with the priests later walked some 700 metres to the spot where his father's ashes was immersed on May 30, 1991.
"Last time also Rahul had wished to come here but because of security restrictions, he could not do it. Here is the place where the ashes of Rajiv Gandhi (Rahul's father) were immersed, in the Papanasini river," Mr Venugopal told reporters.
Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in a suicide bomb blast at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on May 21, 1991 during an election campaign.
Then Kerala chief minister K Karunakaran, Mullappally Ramachandran, KC Venugopal and Ramesh Chennithala had attended the ritual of immersing the ashes of Rajiv Gandhi in Papanasini 28 years ago, Ramesh Chennithala had told news agency PTI.
It is believed that if the ashes of the dead are immersed in Papanasini, it is equivalent to doing the rituals in Gaya. The Thirunelli temple near Mananthavady is surrounded by the Kambamala, Karimala and the Varadiga peaks.
Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to address rallies in Kerala's Alappuzha and Thiruvananthapuram later in the day.
Mr Gandhi, accompanied by his sister Priyanka and senior Congress leaders, filed his nomination in Wayanad on April 4.
Polling in Kerala will be held in a single phase on April 23. Counting of votes will take place on May 23. Wayanad is the second seat from where Mr Gandhi will contest, apart from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI and IANS)