Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa offers worship at Tirupati shrine

Mahinda Rajapaksa

Amid tight security, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his wife Shiranthi today offered worship at the famous hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara near here.

Rajapaksa was in the temple for about 40 minutes. Before offering worship, he took part in the 'Suprabhatha' recitation ritual in the sanctum sanctorum, said temple sources.

Later, the temple priests blessed the couple while the shrine's management presented them with a sacred silk cloth, prasadam and holy water.

Reacting to the widespread protests against his visit, Rajapaksa told reporters in a democratic country like India every body has the right to protest.

"You people come to Sri Lanka to know the truth....," he said.

Rajapaksa had arrived here from Bodh Gaya last evening on a 17-hour pilgrimage amid protest by activists of DMK, MDMK and some outfits from Tamil Nadu who were taken into preventive custody.

Rajapaksa had commenced his two-day pilgrimage to India with a visit to Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya in Bihar, where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.

Various Tamil Nadu parties, including DMK and MDMK, staged protests charging him with making efforts to "annihilate" the ethnic Tamils in the island republic.

Leading the protest in Chennai yesterday, DMK chief M Karunanidhi, whose party is a key UPA ally, had alleged Rajapaksa was not only attempting to "annihilate" Tamils but also the Tamil language.

The protest was held under the banner of the Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation, which Karunanidhi had revived some months ago.

Tight security arrangements had been put in place at the airport, along the 33-km road from the airport to Tirumala.

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