Malayalam poet and Padma Shri awardee Akkitham passes away at age 94

Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri, who won the 55th Jnanpith Award in 2019, penned his first poem at the age of eight.
Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri
Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri
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Renowned Malayalam poet Akkitham, who won the 55th Jnanpith award in 2019, passed away on Thursday in Kerala. He was 94. Akkitham is also known for his critical essays and short stories, which have been translated into multiple languages. The 94-year-old passed away at a private hospital in Thrissur on Thursday. His mortal remains will be kept at the Sahitya Akademi in Thrissur for the public to pay their last respects.

Akkitham Achuthan Namboodiri was born in 1926 in Kerala’s Palakkad district. At the age of eight, he penned his first poem and went on to become one of the most respected poets in Kerala. Over the years, he has won several prestigious accolades, including the Sahitya Akademi award in 1973, Padma Shri award in 2017, and the Ezuthachan award. He has also won several other notable awards like Asan Prize, Vallathol award, Lalitambika Sahitya award, Kerala Sahitya Akademi award, Odakkuzhal award, Nalappad award, Ezhuthachan award and Moorti Devi Award.

Born to Vasudevan Namboodiri and Parvathy Antharjanam, a young Akkitham had always shown interest in fine arts and literature. As a young poet, he even established close bonds with the notable literary figures VT Bhattathiripad, Edassery and others. Despite being born into the dominant caste of Namboodiris, Akkitham was staunchly against the practice of untouchability. He was also heavily influenced by Gandhian thoughts and philosophy. In 1947, he joined the Paliya Satyagraha against untouchability.

In 2019, at the age of 93, Akkitham won the Jnanpith award for his outstanding contribution to literature. He was the sixth person from Kerala to be conferred with the award.

Akkitham’s works have touched generations of Malayalam literature readers, both young and old. Perhaps one of the most memorable of lines he has penned is ‘Vellicham Dukhamanuni Thamasalo Sugapratham’ which translates to ‘light is woe, darkness is bliss’. This is from his 1952 masterpiece ‘Ithupatham Nootandinte Ithihasam’ (A 20th Century Masterpiece).

Expressing his condolences, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote “Akkitham was a great poet of noble human love,” and expressed deep sorry in the passing away of the literary genius."

Read his works here.

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