--> Skip to main content

Walking from Varanasi to Sabarimala for Eco-friendly Cause

R Ananthapadmanabhan, a devotee of Ayyappa, is walking from Varanasi to Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple – nearly 3000 kilometers. He has taken this endure in 2011 – 2012 Sabarimala Mandala – Makaravilakku pilgrimage to highlight the dangers of the use of plastic by devotees going to temples.
Times of Indiareports
A van, with posters in different languages explaining the ill-effects of plastics, follows him at a distance. Ananthapadmanabhan carries an irumudi kattu (a two-chambered bag to carry offerings to the deity and snacks, grains and lentil to be consumed by the pilgrim) on his head, a water bottle and a banner on his back explaining the need to protect the environment in and around Sabarimala. 
"Every year, 8,750 tonnes of garbage are collected in the Sabarimala hills after the pilgrims leave. Even during the pilgrim season, it becomes difficult to take the mandatory holy dip in the Pamba river, enroute to the shrine, as the waste is dumped into the waters," says Ananthapadmanabhan during a brief stopover in Chennai. 

This is the 19th year of padayatra for the former bank employee. Every year, he walks from Chennai to Sabarimala but this year, in order to highlight the evils of plastic, he decided to start his padayatra from Varanasi.
Ananthapadmanabhan, along with a temple priest Srijith Namboodri, set up the Eco Pilgrimage Trust in 2009 to rid the hills of plastic.
"In the first year, a small team of volunteers, including some college students, cleaned up a part of the Pamba river. Last year, we had 300 volunteers who cleaned the entire river stretch. Due to the awareness generated during this padayatra, we hope to enlist 3,000 volunteers this year," he says. 
Ananthapadmanabhan stops to rest after every five km and covers about 25 km daily on an average. He hopes to complete the padayatra, which he started in October, by January 7, 2012.