Kerala writer Balan receives Padma Shri when his wife’s pyre was burning

Malappuram: It was supposed to be one of the happiest moments in Balan Putheri’s life.

The writer of many books on Hindu mythology and temple rites was all set to receive the Padma Shri award from President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday.

But he suffered a huge personal loss a few hours before the function when his wife Shantha lost her long fight with cancer.

Shell shocked, Balan didn’t know what to do at that crucial moment. Returning home was impossible at short notice. So he decided not to miss the function.

Even as his wife’s pyre was burning in Kondotty in Malappuram, he walked to the podium in New Delhi with a heavy heart and trembling hands to receive the award.

For Balan, who is visually challenged, Santha was the pillar of strength. She gave him the courage to write and supported in all his endeavours.

Balan wanted Shantha to be his side while receiving the coveted award. But she could not join him because of his failing health. Eventually he was accompanied by his elder brother Damaodaran to Delhi.

His pain knew no bounds when he consented to conduct the funeral at their family property in his absence. “He sobbed uncontrollably when he permitted us to conduct the funeral in his absence,” his brother Santhosh said.

The funeral began at 3.30pm on Tuesday and the pyre was burning when Balan received the award.

Their son Ramlal, 20, is visually and mentally impaired.

Balan is expected to reach home on Wednesday night.

Balan Putheri is not popular in Kerala’s literary circles. Obviously, many eyebrows were raised when he was selected for the Padma Shri award in 2021. He wrote 213 books mainly on Hindu mythology and temple rites. There were allegations that he got the award because of his affiliation to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Balan was one of the six Padma awardees from Kerala in 2021.

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