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Hindu rites for late comrade Nayanar

Hindu rites for late comrade Nayanar

Author: IANS
Publication: The New Indian Express
Date: June 29, 2004
URL: http://www.newindpress.com/Newsitems.asp?ID=IER20040628102157&Title=Kerala&Topic=0

He was a diehard Communist for nearly four decades, but when it came to post-funeral rites for late Kerala chief minister E.K. Nayanar, his family decided to immerse his ashes the Hindu way.

Nayanar had passed away last month in Delhi and was given a funeral by his Communist Party of India-Marxist that was replete with Marxist slogans.

But on Monday, in what was a family affair, his ashes were immersed in the waters off Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu in a typically Hindu religious way.

At 5.30 a.m., the entire Nayanar family was present at Kerala House in Kanyakumari.

With the help of a Hindu priest, prayers were conducted after which Nayanar's eldest son Krishna Kumar immersed the leader's ashes.

Several CPI-M legislators, when asked if it was proper for the post- funeral rites of a Communist icon to be conducted in the Hindu religious way, said it was a personal affair of the family and the party had nothing to do with it.

Kodeyeri Balakrishnan, the CPI-M deputy leader in the Kerala assembly, said the funeral of Nayanar was done by the party, but not the post-funeral rites.

"What happened in Kanyakumari was purely a family affair and the party had no role in it," said Balakrishnan.

When asked if it was proper to observe Hindu religious rites for a Communist, he said: "We will have to look into the issue in detail."

While Nayanar himself was a devout Communist, his children and wife are not.

In fact his wife Sarada is very religious and eyebrows were raised when she visited a Hindu shrine in Sabarimala during Nayanar's reign as chief minister.

At that time the party defended her visit by saying it was not the leader but his wife who had visited Sabarimala.

Defending Monday's rituals was former health minister and Left Democratic Front ally A.C. Shanmugha Das.

Das said for most Hindu devotees from north Kerala, the practice was to immerse ashes of their dead either at the Thirunelli or Thirunavaya.

"Kanyakumari should not be classified along with the other two places. It is a place where three seas meet and there is nothing wrong in what Nayanar's family did," said Das.

Varkala Kahar, a legislator of the rival Congress party, however, found the incident ironical.

"Nayanar had a funeral where party slogans were raised and everything was done in a typically Marxist manner. What happened Monday is therefore interesting, though the party will certainly have some way of defending that too," said Kahar.

Except for a vehicle from the CPI-M headquarters provided to the family, there was nothing official about Monday's event, the party insisted.

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