Asiya and Abubacker, a Muslim couple from South Vallam in Perumbavoor, Kerala is allegedly facing a social boycott from their own community for protecting a sacred Hindu Grove. Their fault, if it can be called one, has been to take care of a Hindu snake temple for past 17 years. It was part of land given to them by their ancestors.
When the couple came to believe the presence of a snake at their home, they started worshiping it. But this hurt the sentiments of members of their community. “We have been living here for the last 50 years. For 25 years we went through a lot of hardship. These snake gods came as saviors. We looked after them in secret for about 13 years and then everybody came to know about it through our daughter-in-law. People threatened us, asked us to destroy it,” says 65-year-old Aasiya. The family sacrificed non-vegetarian food because of the grove, she Aasiya, who had been lighting a lamp before the ‘sarpathara’ for the past 17 years.
The 200-year-old sacred grove has been demolished several times by their detractors in the last four years and each time, she and her husband rebuilt it. But what pains them more is the way they are treated at their local Mosque. “One Friday when I was at the Mosque, they criticized me during a speech, about my beard and my cap. They even criticized me for going to Haj. I have never gone to that Mosque since,” says 75 yr old Abubacker. “Our ancestors also had given offerings at the sacred grove to appease snake deities,” Abubacker said.
The local cleric denied that the couple had been debarred from entering the mosque. However, he said that they had gone against the beliefs of the community. “We never asked him (Abubacker) to not enter the mosque. He stopped coming. If he wants to follow another faith then let him,” said the cleric.
Abubacker says he has not done anything against Islam. “Whatever religion we belong to, there is only one God. It is a fact that we pay offerings to the snake deities. But we chant only Islamic prayers. We don’t know the Hindu prayers,” he said.
“We have received a complaint from Abubacker stating they are facing a social boycott. We will call both parties for hearing. People should be allowed to follow their belief. Boycotting them for that reason is unacceptable,” said BM Jamal, CEO Kerala State Waqf Board.
In spite of all that they have faced, Aasiya and Abubacker find no contradiction in their beliefs.