Rameswaram’s claim to fame is mixed with and a part of legend, flowing from the Ramayana, which says that Ram, the exiled king, performed a puja to Lord Siva in the form of a lingam here before crossing over to Lanka to rescue his wife
Sita from the clutches of King Ravana.
Without giving any offence to the hordes of believers who
descend on this temple town to pray at the Siva temple, the
town’s main attraction, it won’t be remiss or far off the mark
to say, for July 29 and 30, the town’s cynosure was a man
from very modest means who was born here but went on to
occupy the highest office in the land and be honored with the
country’s highest civilian honor.
Throughout our six-hour journey from Kerala’s capital
Thiruvananthapuram to Rameswaram July 28, the roadside
was dotted by banners and posters paying homage to the
‘Missile Man.’ Half the wordage was typically Tamil OTT (I
am a Tamilian who takes pride in my people’s loud style),
sample this: ‘The Agni missile has reached the sky,’ said one.
But to be fair, most of the boards were poetic, sharing the
agony, the trauma, of losing a respected elder.
In Rameswaram, virtually every building and wall has a
banner dedicated to him. Kalam was everywhere.
A crowd had already started growing outside ‘House of
Kalam’, the late former President’s ancestral home where his
99-year-old elder brother Mohammad Muthu Meera Lebbai
Some lit candles at the entrance of the house, others garlanded Kalam’s photograph.
Dr Kalam’s ‘green brigade’ was there too — some 50 young
boys from across Tamil Nadu — controlling the massive
influx of people wanting to pay their last respects. “We have
arranged 10 free buses to bring people,” one volunteers said.
That for July 29 and 30 the town would be known for Avul
Pakir Jainalubdin Abdul Kalam was a fair assessment.
Rameswaram is choc-a-bloc with hotels to suit all budg- ets, and there was a run on them as the media and officialdom descended to cover the town’s farewell to Kalam.
His body was to be brought to a huge field on the
Mandapam-Rameswaram road, and bang opposite the
venue was a popular hotel. Given its proximity to the venue,
it was a huge hit with the hordes of media-persons who had
descended on the town, as well as, naturally, security forces,
since among the dignitaries expected to visit was Prime
Minister Narendra Modi.
A visit to the hotel to check if any rooms were available,
hours before President Kalam’s mortal remains reached the
venue, elicited a negative response. No sir, no rooms available.
The lobby, we could see, had a fair share of men in khaki as
well as in mufti who believed they were merging into the
background but whose physique gave them away.
Also spotted were two men in commando garb, hustling a
bag, getting into the lift to go to the higher grounds.
From outside, we could not see a single open window.
July 29, Dr Kalam’s mortal remains would be placed in a huge pandal erected a short distance past the Pamban
bridge, which connects Rameswaram to mainland India.
Around 30 young men from neighboring Parmakudi town
had been toiling since 4 pm, July 28, to erect the tent.
In Rameswaram, amid sorrow, hope lives on
The city lost its favorite son, A P J Abdul Kalam. But A Ganesh Nadar
People shower rose petals on the grave of former Indian President a P J abdul Kalam during his funeral ceremony in rameswaram, Tamil nadu, July 30. DanISh SIDDIqUI/reU TerS
and Saisuresh Sivaswamy report that his legacy will live on forever.