Kerala temple hosts Iftar feast for Muslims, sets communal harmony goals

On April 7, the Vishnu Mahadeva temple in Kerala’s Malappuram district organised an Iftar feast for Muslims, who couldn’t attend the temple’s annual feast the day before due to Ramadan fasting

Around 300 Muslims of the locality turned up for the Iftar feast hosted by the temple. Photos: The Federal

When intolerance, attacks and hate campaigns against Muslims have become common occurrences in BJP-ruled India, a temple in Kerala has set a unique example of communal harmony and co-existence by hosting an Iftar party for Muslims in the locality. On the evening of April 7, around 300 Muslims congregated on the premises of Vishnu Mahadeva temple at Thirur in Kerala’s Malappuram district to attend the mass Iftar hosted by its managing body.

Every year, the temple celebrates the annual day of the consecration of its deity and wraps it up with a community feast, one which is open to everyone irrespective of caste, religion and gender. “This year the festival day (April 6) coincided with the Ramadan fasting, hence the Muslims in the locality could not participate in the grand lunch. After holding discussions, the temple committee decided to host an Iftar for the Muslim members of the community,” Velayudhan, president of the temple committee told The Federal.

Velayudhan says the response from the Muslims in the locality was phenomenal. “We expected 200, but more than 300 attended the Iftar. However, we could manage and there was no scarcity of food,” he said. With the venue being a temple, the spread was vegetarian and included vegetable biriyani, parotta and chappathi among other dishes.

Also read: Amid communal flare-ups, these places show the way with Hindu-Muslim unity


“We all feel very happy and honoured to attend the Iftar organised by the temple,” says Abdul Samad, a member of the panchayat and a local leader of the Muslim League. “I have participated in several Iftar parties organised by non-Muslims. An Iftar organised by the temple was a fresh experience to me,” he said adding, “this gives us a sense of togetherness and security. We feel like being supported by our Hindu brothers in these dark times.”

Malappuram, a trendsetter

The unrest and communal attacks that happen in the rest of the country does not touch the people of Thirur.

“We all are human beings and we are the same. Creating hate and divide on the basis of religion is awful, whoever does it,” says Velayudhan.

For Malappuram, the only Muslim-majority district in Kerala, such expressions of communal harmony is not new. Hindus and Muslims here are known to have observed Ramadan fasting and hosting Iftar congregations together. A temple hosting Iftar is also not the first of its kind in Malappuram. The Lakshmi Narasimha Moorthy Vishnu temple at Kottakkal in Malappuram had hosted Iftar in 2017 and 2018. The temple committee was planning to make it an annual event, but the same could not materialise due to the pandemic.

Fasting and feasting for 34 years

Though there are numerous stories of individuals hosting Iftar, the story of Prabhakaran, a businessman and a native of Valanchery in Malappuram is unique. He not only organises Iftar, but also has been observing Ramadan fasting for the past 34 years. “Fasting is a healing process. It is good for your body and soul,” Prabhakaran told The Federal. Prabhakaran who was unable to organise Iftar feasts in the last two years due to the pandemic, hosted one last week for 500 Muslim neighbours in the locality.

There are also similar tales of communal harmony elsewhere in the country. Some of them can be read here