Serpent gods’ wrath is legendary, but here a Muslim couple is at the receiving end for worshipping serpent gods – Mosque’s wrath! Abubaker (75) and his better half Assiya (65), the Muslim couple of Perumbavoor near Kochi, have been facing ooruvilakku (social ostracism) for nurturing a nagathara (seat for serpent gods) in their kavu (sacred grove). Ooruvilakku had been declared by the Muslim clergy. The couple had received a fatwa allegedly issued by a local Muslim clergyman. It was on behalf of South Vallam Juma Committee for the couple’s alleged ‘anti-Islamic practices’. As a result the family lost the entitlement to get the share of meat distributed by the mosque during Bakrid. It is also reported that the Committee refused to accept their monthly subscription fee. The couple had performed their Hajj more than 12 years back. Still they continued to worship the serpent gods. They did not see any contradiction in it.
For the clergy, the couple’s sin was ‘serious’: The Muslim couple nurtured a nagathara inside a kavu in their 27.5 cents land their house is located in. But, when the couple was declared outcast, Abubaker stopped going to the mosque for Friday prayers. He complained that even the members of his community stopped co-operating with him. But during that time his sons still went to mosque for prayers.
Now, at last, Kerala State Waqf Board (KSWB) has come to the couple’s rescue. KSWB’s CEO has asked the mosque committee to render all necessary religious services to Abu Baker and Assiya which are enjoyed by the other members of the Jama-ath. CEO does not see any reason for the committee’s opposition to the couple. He intended to issue a directive to the committee in this regard. Board also warned to prosecute the committee if they fail to comply with the order. If so, legal proceedings will be initiated against them under Section 61 of Waqf Act 1995.
In a telephonic conversation, Organiser spoke to Assiya (since Abubaker suffers from some hearing loss). It is the property bequeathed to Abubaker from his father. Assiya remembers that she has been living in that land since the last more than 40 years, after her wedding. Abu’s father got the land from his father, a Sheikh. Since Assiya got married she has been seeing a symbol of this paternal Sheikh along with the serpent deity. But, both remained neglected and unattended. But, around 17 years back Assiya had a dream; the serpent and the deceased Sheikh told her that they should be taken care of properly. They were the days of several sorts of miseries in the family. Since then Assiya has been lighting a traditional bronze lamp in the kavu every dusk. She said, it has brought glory, peace and joy to her family. She added that based on some astrological advice they had tried to invocate the power of the deities and transfer the same to a ‘more proper’ holy place as per the tantric ritual. But, it turned futile. Later on astrologers advised that the serpent and Sheikh love to remain there hence cannot be invocated.
Naturally, both Abu and Assiya resolved to continue the evening prayers before the deities. But, Abu’s elder brother’s son and his friends attacked the deities and demolished the concrete dais. The couple has got three sons and two daughters. Assiya says, her youngest daughter-in-law also is against this worship. But, the son does not object. The couple lives with Abu and Assiya. Other children are living separately; they do not object the parents’ rituals. Both Abu and Assiya are determined to continue their worship at nagathara come what may!
Now, Assiya says, after several years’ embarrassment they do not face much problem from the mosque authorities these days. However the couple had obtained a Kerala High Court stay order upholding the status of nagathara. She suspects a conspiracy behind this silence; it disturbs her. She added that they do not know about the interference of KSWB. —T Satisan, Kerala