Dam row cuts short Sabarimala pilgrims’ progress

via http://expressbuzz.com/states/tamilnadu/dam-row-cuts-short-sabarimala-pilgrims’-progress/341572.html published on December 9, 2011

THENI: Hundreds of devotees of Lord Ayyappa from Tamil Nadu are being forced to cut short their pilgrimage to Sabarimala in Kerala due to violence on the other side of the border over the Mullaiperiyar dam row.

Pilgrims, who had piously adhered to religious and austerity rituals for several days, were deeply hurt over the development. In the past couple of days, many of them are reluctantly removing the sacred beads at local temples in Cumbum and Suruli and returning home.

On Thursday, around 100 devotees removed the sacred beads worn around their necks and deposited them at the Sree Sabarimalai Adivaram Ayyappan Annadhanam temple in Suruli after performing all rituals.

“We followed all rituals at the temple, before removing the beads,” said P Chitrarasan of Gudalur, who was among a group of 19 devotees who had cut short their pilgrimage.

According to the temple priest Sri Ram Gurukal, over 200 devotees had removed their sacred beads during the last two days.

They included pilgrims from Madurai, Genji, Puducherry, Gudalur and Thanjavur. Another batch of 100 pilgrims stuck along the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border also followed suit.

T C Raman, a pilgrim from Madurai, said he suffered untold hardships for three days when he was stranded at Kumili in Kerala. “We left Madurai early on Monday and crossed Gudalur at 6 am. However, as we crossed the border, our vehicle was stopped every half-a-kilometre by mobs who abused and beat up devotees from TN. Our vehicle was attacked and they derogatively called us  ‘Pandi’, besides beating us up,” he recalled.

Raman and his fellow devotees were helped by some Tamil workers in cardamom estates who gave them refuge. “By then, our food stock had depleted. The workers fed us for three days and later helped us board a vehicle bearing a Kerala registration number on which we reached the TN border. We took another Tamil Nadu registration vehicle and reached here this morning,” Raman told Express.

Later, he and other devotees removed their sacred beads at a Vinayagar temple in Madurai.

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