A Kerala temple has set an example by organising an Iftar gathering for Muslims who could not take part in an annual feast held as part of the temple’s consecration day because they were fasting for Ramazan.
Office-bearers of the Sree Mahavishnu temple in Vaniyannur, near Tirur in Malappuram district, organised the iftar gathering on the temple premises for more than 200 Muslims from the neighbourhood on April 7 “Our Muslim brothers and sisters have traditionally been part of our temple festival in many ways. We decided to organise iftar for them since they could not participate in the community feast and expressed sadness at missing out on the event where everyone, irrespective of caste and religion, sits together and enjoys a sadya (the traditional Kerala vegetarian meal),” N. Shashi Kumar, member of the temple committee told to media .
The ancient temple in the Muslim-majority area was renovated a few years ago. The community feast was organised for around 2,000 people on the consecration day, April 6. The iftar gathering was held the following day.
Among the guests were imams and Islamic teachers. Local political leaders from rival entities such as the Indian Union Muslim League and the CPM were part of the iftar gathering.
The iftar menu included dates, fruits, traditional snacks, vegetable biryani and lemonade.
“We don’t see anything unusual or special about inviting Muslims or Christians to our feast,” Kumar said, citing local traditions bound by communal harmony .
While places of worship in Kerala are known to have set innumerable examples of communal amity with rituals and traditions involving different communities, the thoughtfulness of the Mahavishnu temple committee that organised iftar for Muslims has drawn appreciation.
Local panchayat member Medammal Muneerunisha of the Left Democratic Front, who was among those who attended the iftar gathering, described it as an example worth emulating. “At a time like this, when communally insensitive acts are becoming common in many parts of the country, the example set by this temple is worth emulating,” he said.
“The gesture of inviting Muslims for iftar at the temple is a noble deed that would go a long way in strengthening communal amity in Kerala and deserves appreciation,” said Muneerunisha, who has participated in the annual feast at the temple for several years.
She said the iftar gathering at the temple and the manner in which Muslims had responded reflected the larger sense of brotherhood in Malappuram. “Unlike the negative propaganda against our district, Malappuram has always been an abode of communal amity where everyone, irrespective of religion, live in peace,” she added.