Human Interest
“Religious harmony is the unique identity of Tamil Nadu. We wanted to emphasise that through this event,” an organiser said.

Even as communal violence and intolerance is gripping life in several parts of the country, a heartwarming tale has emerged from Pudukkottai in Tamil Nadu where a group of Muslims provided meals to Hindu pilgrims attending the kumbhabhishekam festival in the city.

The festival at the Selantara Nayagi Ambika Sametha temple in Annavasal, Pudukkottai is currently underway. The pilgrims who visited this year’s festival were treated to a sumptuous vegetarian meal by Muslims in the area.

The villagers at Parambur in Annavasal decided to hold a kumbhabhishekam at the 10th century Chola temple. The ritual is said to ‘homogenise, synergise and unite the mystic powers of the deity.’ Usually, this involves a refurbishing of the temple premises. The funds for the renovation were collected from residents in the area.

Even as the kumbabishekam festivities were being planned, the Muslim locals decided that they would pitch in and distribute the prasadam or food offering at the temple and expressed their desire to do the same to the authorities. Going one step further, they made a whole meal of it. The pandal or marquee, with tables and chairs, was installed close to the temple for the convenience of the pilgrims.

The devotees who had been on a fast from the crack of dawn were treated to a mouthwatering meal served in traditional banana leaves. The gastronomical fare consisted of the full vegetarian offering, including appalam and payasam.

Mohammad Farooq, who was part of the group that organised the luncheon said, “Religious harmony is the unique identity of Tamil Nadu. We wanted to emphasise that through this event. Over 5,000 people have eaten today. This gives us great joy.”