The punishing rains in Kerala have left thousands homeless and destroyed crores worth of property. But while these floods may have chased the state's residents into relief camps, it also washed away many religious differences in its wake over the last month.
Heart-warming instances of religious harmony that 'God's own country' has displayed in the face of adversity across the state, are doing the rounds on social media.
The first sign of this came when places of religious worship threw open their doors to allow shivering and shocked locals to take refuge. A mosque in northern Malappuram, one of the worst hit districts, did exactly that, as they allowed 17 displaced Hindu families including women, children and the elderly to turn the building into a relief camp. The Juma Masjid, located in Chaliyar village, allowed people to sleep in the mosque and prepared food for them in their canteen.
"There were 26 families who had sought refuge in the mosque, a majority of them Hindus. Though we opened the relief camp on August 8, the activities started in full swing only after August 14, following a series of landslides that rocked the district," said Chaliyar village panchayat chief PT Usman to PTI.
Similarly, a madrasa in the neighbouring Kozhikode district came forward to lend their roof to those rendered homeless by the floods. The spacious building located in Cheruvannur village is a school for teaching Quran. But administrators reportedly suspended classes to provide shelter for flood victims.
120 families including 470 men, women and children were lodged in the makeshift camp.
And it was not just efforts to house victims that shone through in this grim time.
After the rains subsided, two groups of Muslim youths in Wayanad and Malappuram went on to clean temples in the districts on Monday, even as they fasted on the day of Arafah. The Venniyode Sree Maha Vishnu temple in Wayanad was reportedly inundated with waters from the Venniyode river and covered in mud from the floods.
In Mannarkad, it was the Ayyappan temple that saw 20 Muslim youths clean the premises for four hours.
â€śIslam says it is the duty of every believer to protect places of worship, even during war. We believe that we will be answerable to God on what we did during testing times like the current floods. What was most striking was the spirit of acceptance shown by temple authorities. The temple official was overwhelmed by our help,â€ť said Najumudeen K, a UAE based engineer who was part of the team, to ToI.
On the morning of Eid, the message given to worshippers gathered at the Palayalam mosque in Thiruvananthapuram was to contribute to the CMâ€™s disaster relief fund.
â€śThe message was to cut down the celebrations and donate the money saved to the relief fund,â€ť says the Palayam Imam Maulavi Suhaib VP.
Relief fund collection at Palayam mosque on Eid - Photo: Sreekesh Raveendran Nair
This is a time of unity and mutual love. A time when everyone should be in solidarity with the ones hit by disaster, the Imam says. â€śWith that in mind, there were brothers from the Hindu religion to help clean the masjids. And there were Muslims helping to clean the temples. That shows the unity of people. The message of this festival is to create oneness. And through the disaster, itâ€™s happened. This unity should now last forever in our lives,â€ť the Imam adds.
Pictures of Muslim women applying mehendi to nuns in Snehalaya convent in Kodungallur ahead of Eid have been doing the rounds on social media, with several celebrities sharing the images and taking pride in the religious harmony in the state.
And finally, perhaps in the biggest gesture of harmony to be seen in the floods, differences were buried at a graveyard in Idukki district, where a Christian cemetery allowed for the burial of a Hindu man in its premises. The elderly man had died at a relief camp in the district and the vicar at Pallivasal allowed for the final rites to be conducted at the Church cemetery.
â€śWe have been preaching our parishioners to â€śbe betterâ€ť to each other and take this opportunity to be kind and more helpful to a neighbour who might be struggling. And the Church itself took the opportunity to let one of our neighbours to rest peacefully inside the cemetery regardless of his cast or creed,â€ť said Fr Shinto Velliparambil, the vicar at St Anneâ€™s Church to TNIE.