Kerala prepares a token of religious harmony for Republic Day

Kasaragod district’s locals talk about the secular history of the region that received its first symbol, 20 years ago.

religious harmony

Most architecture needs to withstand a few hundred years before it can be known for any particular significance. However, a humble ‘welcome’ arch in the Kuniya region of Kasaragod district in Kerala is to receive a glowing inauguration on Republic Day for its secular origins, the arch is merely 20 years old.

The arch, constructed on a road connecting to National Highway 66, marks the entry way to two religious places in the area – the Bilal Masjid and the Mahavishnu Temple, known locally as the Urulamkodi temple.)

“The arch was built only 20 years ago by the Bilal Masjid committee. However, members asked the construction workers to include the name of the nearby temple as well. This they did without consulting the temple people,” Urulamkodi temple committee member Akash Kunhiraman told SabrangIndia.

Kunhiraman, who was walking to the police station on January 23, 2021 for finalising the inaugural event was happy for the “secular symbol” and the feeling of good-will in the committee. He praised the local people for their secular attitude that was free of any communal bias.

“I was in Mumbai on December 6, 1992 when the Bombay riots started. I remember I was at the hospital when the doctor told me what had happened. I used to live with a Muslim at the time. But when I came here, I saw that the people were completely unaffected by any such incidents. Even the Ayodhya and Babri Masjid incidents did not phase them,” he said.

The bonds between the two communities further strengthened when temple official K Narayanan Vaniyan Vallappy (now arch committee Convener) met with masjid khateeb Abdul Khader Shahid (now arch committee Chairman) and offered to pitch in for the renovation of the welcome arch that showed an ‘Om’ symbol on one side and the ‘crescent and moon’ symbol on the other side. The two groups thus agreed to pitch in Rs. 2.5 lakh each to have the monument ready by January 26.

It may be noted that the temple authorities did not require a sign for their entryway since locals claim the Mahavishnu temple is over 15,000 years old. However, touched by the generosity shown by Masjid committee members two decades ago, they decided to show a sense of camaraderie.

However, according to local visitor and close friend of masjid officials Hassan K. A., the two religious institutions have always pitched in to amplify any sort of event or celebration.

During Hindu events, the temple folk take out processions while the Masjid priests stand along the path to offer water, food and similar relief to people. Similarly, Hindu priests visit the Masjid during important Islamic events to support their religion.

“Even during coronavirus lockdown, the two communities did not face any difficulties. Both sides followed due protocol and both communities received equal ration from state government authorities,” said Hassan.

Kuniya’s residents were not even aware of the atrocities faced by Muslim communities in northern and central India owing to the Tablighi Jamaat incident in 2020.

“If you come here, you will see that children here do not even know of such communal differences. There has never been any need for police intervention when it came to interaction between any religious communities,” said Kunhiraman.

The town is not completely free of religious restrictions as the area is still divided in a Muslim area and a Hindu area. Moreover, the region has also not witnessed many inter-religious marriages. Yet, the various groups do not harbour any ill-will towards each other and intend to celebrate Republic day on a positive note of celebrating secularity.

When asked what people in Kuniya thought about the communal tensions seen in other parts of the country, the temple officials said, “We think people should once again live together peacefully as we did in the past.”



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