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Sabarimala awards a female visitor

Sabarimala awards a female visitor
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The debate still rages. Courts have treaded cautiously on the issue, with the verdict yet to be pronounced, whether women can be allowed to worship along with men in the hilly shrine of Sabarimala, nestled in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta district in Kerala.

The debate still rages. Courts have treaded cautiously on the issue, with the verdict yet to be pronounced, whether women can be allowed to worship along with men in the hilly shrine of Sabarimala, nestled in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta district in Kerala.

Meanwhile, in what is being seen as a first of its kind, the state government awarded the top female playback singer K S Chitra with a rare award- Harivarasanam, till now an exclusive male preserve.

54-year old Krishnan Nair Shantakumari Chithra, K S Chithra or Chithra for short is the modern day singing legend of south Indian cinema. Telugu film music lovers could not have missed her unique, high-pitched singing all through the late 1980s, when she was a regular in many top hero films like that of Chiranjeevi and Nagarjuna for a good decade and more.

Many saw her as a legatee of singing legends like P Suseela and S Janaki, who had till then held unassailable positions all over the southern film world. There have been awards galore which have come her way – six National Awards and six Filmfare Awards- in her nearly 40-year- old career, but the one which her home state gave her at the famed location of Sabarimala is surely something she cherishes. As she told, Kumudam, a Tamil magazine: ‘My earlier awards are to make me proud and happy. This one is to satiate my soul’.

The Kerala state government instituted this award in 2012 to felicitate singers who have sung songs in praise of Lord Ayyappa. The first awardee was the icon K J Yesudas, whose song still reverberates in the corridors of the temple daily till it is officially shut down for the day. Among others, the other singer who has been awarded this distinction include our own S P Balasubrahmaniam.

Like the eligible women who can trek up the hilly terrain to have a darshan of the Lord- (means all those who are past 50 and in the post-menopausal stage), Chithra too underwent a 41-day ritual of fasting and abstinence. It was then that she came to know about her selection for the Award, which made her trek up the hill for the first ever time.

As she recalls, it has been an experience of a lifetime as she was accompanied by her family and she sang one of her famed Ayyappa numbers, much to the admiration of her fans and officials who were assembled at the temple.

By K Naresh Kumar

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