COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Sunday offered prayers at the famous hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara at nearby Tirumala.
On arrival at the ''mahadwaram'' (main entrance), the island nation's United National Party president Wickremesinghe and his wife Maitree were accorded a traditional welcome by temple priests and top functionaries of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which governs the 2,000-year old shrine, a temple official told PTI.
Before paying obeisance to the presiding deity of Lord Venkateswara, the 73-year old Mr Wickremesinghe performed ages-old ''Tulabharam'' ritual.
As part of ''Tulabharam'' ritual, devotees sit in a balance and offer grocery items, precious metals or money equal to their body weight, the temple official said.
Later, the same is made as an offering to the God at the hill temple, the official added.
The Sri Lankan prime minister, his wife and other dignitaries later worshipped Lord Venkateswara. They spent about an hour in the temple.
After offering prayers, Mr Wickremesinghe was honoured with a sacred silk clot, besides the ''prasadam'' and ''theertham'' (celestial water) in a tiny bottle, while the priests, amid chanting of vedic hymns, blessed him at the sprawling Rangamandapam in the temple.
Mr Wickremesinghe flew in to the Renigunta airport, 20 km from here, by a special helicopter from Chennai on Saturday evening and drove straight to the Tirumala hills, the temple official said.
This is his fourth visit to the ancient shrine. Mr Wickremesinghe has offered prayers at the temple in 2018, 2016 and 2002 as well, the official said.
Later, he left for Chennai en route to Sri Lanka.