It was during January-February of 1893 that Swami Vivekananda traversed the southern districts for the second time after his historic Chicago Address. His earlier visit was in December 1892 when he sat in meditation on the present Vivekananda Rock in Kanyakumari. His second visit began on the Pamban shore on January 26, 1893, where the steamer carrying him and European disciples from Ceylon anchored. The Raja of Ramnad, who had earlier sponsored his trip to the US to participate in the World’s Parliament of Religions, accorded a grand reception to the monk. He also drew the carriage carrying Swami Vivekananda.

From Pamban, Swami Vivekananda travelled to Rameswaram, Ramanathapuram, Paramakudi and Manamadurai before reaching Madurai on February 2. Here he stayed as the guest of the Raja of Ramnad. He visited the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple and addressed a reception accorded to him by the people of Madurai at the present Madura College Higher Secondary School.

In his address, Swami Vivekananda said: “Being in Madura, as the guest of one of your well-known citizens and noblemen, the Raja of Ramnad, one fact comes prominently to my mind.

Perhaps, most of you are aware that it was the Raja who first put the idea into my mind of going to Chicago, and it was he who all the time supported it with all his heart and influence.

A good deal, therefore, of the praise that has been bestowed upon me in this address, ought to go to this noble man of Southern India. I only wish that instead of becoming a Raja he had become a sanyasin, for that is what he is really fit for.”

Memories of his visit were revived at the National Youth Day celebration organised by Ramakrishna Mutt here on Saturday. Kamalatmananda, head of the mutt, recalled how Vivekananda Jayanthi was being observed as National Youth Day since 1985. The Madurai mutt had been organising an essay competition on the occasion for students for the past five years, in association with TVS Sri Chakra Tyres, under different categories.

This year’s competition attracted 25, 401 entries.

Prizes to 15 winners were given away by District Collector, Anshul Mishra, at the jayanthi celebration organised at Ramakrishna Mutt. R. Thirunavukkarasu, Deputy Commissioner of Police, and R. Chockalingam, president, Kaviarasu Kannadasan Narpani Mandram, addressed the gathering.

In the evening, the Swami Vivekananda Sardha Shati Samaroh Samiti organised a rally of students to commemorate the occasion.

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