Palakkad: Malayalam poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri was conferred the Jnanpith award, the country's highest literary award, by Kerala Culture Minister AK Balan on Thursday.
The award was conferred on the eminent poet in a special function held at his residence 'Devayanam' in Kumaranallur, Palakkad.
Seated in an armchair at his home, Akkitham received the award.
Appearing live from his office in the state Secretariat, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan paid tributes to the life and works of 93-year-old Akkitham, as he is popularly known.
Vijayan said Akkitham's outlook towards life and the universe itself are shaped by harsh realities.
The chief minister said the poet's writings have turned out to be proverbs in Malayalam language.
"Velicham dukhamanunni, thamasallo sukhapradam (roughly translated as light bring sorrow my child, darkness is bliss).These lines of Akkitham arerepeated by every common man and it's like a proverb for Keralites," Vijayan said.
Akkitham is the sixth writer to bag the Jnanpith Award for Malayalam literature.
Akkitham's work includes "Irupatham Noottantinte Ithihasam", "Balidarashanam" and "Dharma Sooryan" among over 45 works of poems, plays and short stories.
The award was announced in November last year but the handing over ceremony was delayed due to COVID-19 lockdown.
The first Jnanpith was awarded to Keralite poet G Sankara Kurup in 1965, then in 1980 it was awarded to writer S K Pottekkatt, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai in 1984,M T Vasudevan Nair in 1995 and O N V Kurup in 2007.
Akkitham is the only living poet being called Mahakavi (great poet) in Malayalam.
The 93-year-old poet is instrumental in heralding modernism in Malayalam poetry.
A true Gandhian, social reformer, journalist and an iconic example of simplicity, Akkitham has been a man who wears many hats with aplomb besides his gifted literary life.
Born in a traditional Namboothiri (Brahmin) family in Kumaranallur in Palakkad district, Akkitham had trumpeted his arrival to Malayalam literature at the age of eight by penning his first poem.
He later gained recognition as poet, essayist and editor in his decades-long life besides taking part in social reform and renaissance movements.
(With PTI inputs)