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Muslim Festivals Of Kerala
The Bakrid commemorates Ibrahim's (Abhraham) offering of his only son as a sacrifice in obedience to God's command. The Muslims enjoy hearty feasts on Bakrid day. The rich may sacrifice a he goat or a bullock and distribute it among Frieds, relatives and the poor. The famous Haj is performed after the celebration of Idul Azha. The whole atmosphere is filled with the resonance of "Allahu-Akbar". The Assembly then prepares for the congregational prayer led by the Imam. After the ceremonial Id prayer, the leader addresses the devotees, exhorting them to be conscious of their duties to God and follow the example of Abraham. The prayer and the sermon over, the gathering exchange greetings and as an expression of affectionate brotherhood, hug each other. The festivity at home commence after the ceremonial prayer with hearty feasts followed by social visits. Women enjoy this occasion by paying visits to the neighbouring houses and engaging in singing and dancing. All festivals of Islam have some religious significance and are occasions to express their gratitude to God.In Kerala on the occasion of Bakrid, special meetings are held in which distinguished members of sister communities participate.
Idul Fitr (Ramzan)
Idul Fitr is celebrated after the conclusion of the Ramzan fast when Muslims give up all kind of food and drink during the day and spend the major part of the night prayer. When the crescent appears on the western horizon heralding the end of the month of fasting, it marks the beginning of the Idul-Fitr festival. The Idul-Fitr festival starts with the commencement of the first day of the month of `Shawwl'. The first item of the celebration is distribution of food materials to the poor and the deserving. Any person who holds food in excess of the day's need must necessarily make his contribution in accordance with the scales prescribed by Islam. Muslims all over the world celebrate this festival with great eclat and in gratitude to God.
Miladi Sharif, celebrated on a large scale in April, Commemorates the birth of the prophet. This celebration has acquired its present dimensions only in recent times. Previously the day was observed by the Muslims by reading what is commonly known as Maulud which is a short treatise in Arabic celebrating the birth, life, work and sayings of the prophet or some saint.
Muharram, the forbidden month, is the opening month of the Hejira year. The 10th day of the month is celebrated by the Sunnies as well as the Shias all over the world. It was on this day that God is believed to have created Adam and Eve and that the Pharoah of Egypt and his countrymen were drowned in the Red Sea by the will of the Almighty. Again it was on this day that the most lamentable carnage at Kerbala took place in 680 AD when Imman Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet and his men met with their end in an agonising manner. On this day the Jews observe fast. The Prophet enjoined on the Muslims to observe fast on the ninth and tenth of Muharram. It was to commemorate the victory of the Jews over Pharoah that fasting was enjoined upon Muslims on these days. For the Shia Muslims, Muharram is an important occasion for religious ceremony. The Sunni Muslims do not celebrate Muharram, but the devout Muslims among them observe fast.
`Pulikali' or `Tiger-dance' is part of this celebration in Kerala. Some Muslims assume the guise of tiger by painting their whole body to bring out the appearance of tiger, wear masks and parade through streets, playing, dancing and mimicking a tiger. This is done to idealize the valour of Hussain.
The colorful display of the folk art at the time of Onam in Kerala in the form of dance and performances are termed as Pulikali. The art also known as Kaduvaakali is a 200 year old form which has been very carefully preserved by the artists of the state. The form is performed by the trained artists who stage it just to entertain the locals and the visitors. The word Pulikali literally means the 'play of the tigers' so the performance revolves around the theme of tiger hunting.
This folk art is mainly staged and practiced in the district of Thissur and Palakkad. The best place to catch the glimpse of the performance is the Swaraj Ground at Thrissur on the fourth day of Onam. The make-up for the show is a painstaking affair with the artists getting themselves ready from the late hours of the night.
Chandankudam at Beemapally
The Chandankudam at Beemapally near Thiruvananthapuram is one of the most colourful of Muslim festival in Kerala. It is said to be the death anniversary of Beema Beeevi, a devout pilgrim lady who came to Kerala from Mecca. The festival begins on the 1st of Jamadul Akhar of the Hijira Era (October) and lasts ten days. Carrying earthen posts smeared with sandal wood paste and the mouth of the pot tightly closed with a Jasmine garland around the edges, thousands of pilgrims go around the mosque and the hallowed tomb of the devout lady in procession. Then the earthen port with money is placed at the tomb as an offering.
Chandanakudam is a ritual offering of coins in earthen pots in Muslim shrines. The pots are smeared with sandal paste, the mouth covered with while cloth, with a garland around the neck and three incense sticks fixed into the cloth covering.
Cheraman Juma Masjid
This is the first Juma Masjid in India and is situated in the Methala Village of Kodungalloor taluk, hardly 20 km from Irinjalakuda railway station. According to the legend, Cheraman Perumal went on a pilgrimage to Arabia where he met Prophet Mohammed at Jeddah and embraced Islam and accepted the name Thajuddin.
Years ago, one of the female dependents of Para Nambisan, a petty chieftain of Malappuram, was taken away by the local Muslims as a slave. Para Nambisan who could not bear this ignominy wanted to wreak vengeance upon the culprits. He therefore, sent for Marakkar, a leader of the local Muslims and the concussing death for so many on both sides. In memory of the devoted Muslim leaders who gave up their lives during the fight, a 'nercha' is conducted every year, either in February or in March in the Mosque at Malappuram.
Veliancode Jaram Nercha Festival
In the village of veliancode there is a Jaram (tomb) where the body of a great Tangal (priest), who is believed to be the descendent of prophet Muhammad, having exceptionally divine qualities, lies buried. The 'Nercha Festival' is celebrated in memory of his death. The mosque is in Malappuram District in Kerala.
Ottapalam Nercha Festival
Juma prayers are held in this mosque on Friday to Commemorate the death anniversary of a saintly person by name Uthman Auliya and annual Festival is held here in January-February.
Kanjiramattom Kodikuthu, Ernakulam
Built as a memorial to Sheikh Fariduddin, the Kanjiramattom mosque is the place where this festival is held. During the 'Chandanakkudam' ritual at night the pilgrims carry pots covered with sandalwood paste and proceed in a procession to the mosque. You can get to see a glimpse of the six caparisoned and ornamented elephants and folk performances add color to the performance. You can see traditional Muslim song and dance performances like 'Duffmuttu', 'Kolkali', Oppana and Mappilappattu during the festival.
One of the famous Muslim festivals of Kerala, the Kanjiramattom Kodikuthu is held 25 km from Ernakulam in the month of January. Celebrated in Kanjiramattom the Kodikuthu Festival draws number of tourists from all over. People dress in their best clothes and offer their prayers in the Kanjiramattom mosque during this festival.
Other local Muslim festivals are Jarram Nercha at Thervath Mosque, Pallanchathanur.