In Kerala, the festival of Onam has come under the communal cloud. According to local reports, some Muslim religious leaders have stated that Muslims should not participate in the festivities.
In fact, a Salafi Islamic preacher called Shamsudheen Fareed from Kozhikode said that celebrating Onam is ‘haram’ (sacrilegious) in Islam.
Yet a young Muslim writer and activist from the same district decided to go against the increasingly polarized beliefs being taught by the preachers who adhere to the Salafi (or Wahabi) Islam in his state.
According to The News Minute, the man called Fayiz Umer held a ‘prasadam’ fest of his own to celebrate the festival of Onam.
He said that around 200 people attended his event and had ‘payasam’ – a sweet dish made from rice and served on the occasion.
What is particularly noteworthy was the banner at the event, which read: “My smiling Onam wishes. I declare openly that if my religion would vanish by celebrating festivals, let it go.”
The report says that the event was held at Kuttiyadi town of the district.
Onam is one of the most important festival of Kerala. Though associated with harvest, according to Hindu beliefs Onam marks the time when King Mahabali returns to meet his people from the netherworld.
Umer is not alone. Around 150 Muslim educational institutions under Muslim Educational Society (MES) too have plans to celebrate Onam in the state.