The numero uno of contemporary Malayalam poetic scene O. N. V. Kurup, who has brought home to Kerala the prestigious Jnanpith Award for the fifth time, was accorded a rousing reception at the international airport when he reached here on Saturday after a two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

A galaxy of admirers, including leading lights from the political firmament, turned up at the airport and later at his residence in the Kerala capital to receive and felicitate ONV.

At the head of those who received ONV as he emerged from the terminal building along with his wife were Culture and Education Minister M. A. Baby, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Vijayakumar and Mayor C. Jayan Babu, besides poet Sugathakumari and V. Sivan Kutty, MLA, and ONV’s immediate family members.

The Ministers and Mr. Jayan Babu draped the elder statesman of the literary world with ceremonial shawls and a visibly moved ONV told the waiting media that he was overwhelmed by the love and affection being shown to him and would return the complement through his future writing.

“I am quite moved by all this love and affection. The people who are present here are my dearest ones. I will only say that I will return this affection through my writing,” he said.

The Culture Minister said he had already spoken to poet and former Sahitya Akademi secretary K. Sachidanandan, who was on the panel that chose ONV for the Jnanpith for 2007, about the possibility of presenting the award to Malayalam’s beloved writer in the presence of his people. The Minister later took the poet and his wife to their home in his official car.

At his home, ONV was received and greeted by Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala, Devaswom Minister Ramachandran Kadannappalli and writer Perumbadavam Sreedharan, among others.

Mr. Chandy hoped that ONV’s achievement would help take forward the State’s demand for recognition of Malayalam as a classical language.