Kerala writer Balan receives Padma Shri as his wife’s pyre burns


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

The author of numerous books on Hindu mythology and temple rites was set to receive the Padma Shri Prize from President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday.

But he suffered enormous personal loss hours before the function when his wife Shantha lost her long battle with cancer.

Shell shocked, Balan did not know what to do at this crucial moment. The return home was impossible in the short term. So he decided not to miss the feature.

Even as his wife’s stake burned at Kondotty in Malappuram, he walked to the podium in New Delhi with a heavy heart and shaking hands to receive the award.

For Balan, who has visual problems, Santha was the mainstay of strength. She gave him the courage to write and supported him in all his endeavors.

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

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

The funeral began at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday and the pyre was on fire when Balan received the award.

Their 20-year-old son Ramlal has visual and mental disabilities.

Balan is expected to return home on Wednesday evening.

Balan Putheri is not popular in Kerala literary circles. Obviously, a lot of eyebrows were raised when he was shortlisted for the Padma Shri Prize in 2021. He wrote 213 books mainly on Hindu mythology and temple rites. There have been claims that he got the award due to his affiliation with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Balan was one of six Padma Laureates from Kerala in 2021.

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