Last year, November 2016 to be precise, when chief minister Pinarayi Vjayan put off his Sabarimala trip, everybody thought the rains were just a convenient excuse for the CM to avoid the trek.
But, this time the chief minister climbed the hills. He not only reached thirumuttom (the court of the temple) but also made history too. Pinarayi Vijayan became the first Communist chief minister to reach the thirumuttom of Sabarimala Sri Ayyappan temple.
The chief minister arrived to inaugurate various developmental works and take stock of mandala and makaravilaku preparations. And, it became a hot topic of debate among both devotees and non-believers. The CM climbed without stopping anywhere and came down the same way. The rain that fell in between didn't bother him. Despite the tough trek up, he didn't sweat a single drop. Last year, the CM didn't climb the hills due to last-minute rains.
He reached Pamba on October 16, the last day of the Malayalam month of Kanni. The then devaswom board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan welcomed him with a ponnada (golden shawl). He took rest before beginning the climb. He wore shoes and socks. Security personnel walked in front showing him light.
Due to security reasons, ambulance jeep also followed him. The security personnel even had equipment to cut off trees in case they fell on the way. He didn't climb fast neither did he speak much during the climb, and took 1.33 hours to reach Sannidhanam (main temple) from Pamba.
Apart from the board president, devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran, MLA Raju Abraham and the current board president A Padmakumar were also part of the team. When minister MM Mani told Raju Abraham that he will come to the meeting the next day by climbing the hills, the CM asked the MLA to tell Mani that there was no need to climb. When Mani told again through Raju Abraham that he is willing to climb up, the CM, know well the health problems of Mani, told him sternly not to climb. His voice had gone up when he passed on the message to Raju Abraham.
The CM carefully negotiated the puddles of water that had formed in the rain. Though everybody thought that he might take rest at Charalmed, it didn't happen. He continued his walk without any signs of tiredness. When a snake appeared on a tree hole, security personnel were caught unawares.
Though he saw the snake, the CM didn't stop. Later, at the end of his journey, he said that he had doubts in the beginning, but the climb was comfortable.
The next day, on Thulam one, he came to the thirumuttam after the review meetings. It was totally unexpected and stirred up curiosity among others.
The board president briefed him on the uniqueness of the new kodimaram (golden mast) and the controversy surrounding the pouring of mercury on it. When he looked at the idol, he asked, "Why no garlands?" Preparations were on for kalasabhishekam then.
When he reached Malikappuram, he accepted the manjal prasadam given to him with both the hands and gave it to his personal staff too. At the Vavar nada, he tasted the medicinal mix and liked it. He asked for it and had it twice. He also asked it to be given to reporters who were standing nearby.
He climbed down by 2.30 in the afternoon. The rain that kept away during the upward climb then came pouring down. But he completed his journey without any problems. The CM also posed for photographs for Kochayyappan, who came in running to take photos of the CM but hurried away when he saw him nearby. It was the only time the CM stopped during his 1.15 hour-long downward journey.
During the meeting, the CM pointed out the those coming for the darshan should return as soon as possible. It showed his compassion towards wild animals and the forest. One becomes an Ayyappan when he loves the forest. In that sense, the CM in his white dhoti became the real pilgrim, the Ayyappan. Nobody becomes an Ayyappan by wearing black clothes. And, lack of black clothes doesn't mean that oneis not an Ayyappan.