Amid CAA stir, Kerala church opens door to offer namaz

Amid CAA stir, Kerala church opens door to offer namaz

Namaz being performed on the premises of St Thomas Church at Kothamangalam in Kerala. (DH photo)

At a time when the nation is going through communally-charged debates and tensions over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Kerala is sending yet another message of communal harmony.

A church at Kothamangalam on the outskirts of Ernakulam district in central Kerala has opened its doors for members of the Muslim community to offer prayers. The St Thomas Church at Kothamangalam, popularly known as Mar Thoma 'Cheriyapally', made the novel gesture of allowing Namaz at its premises. The centuries-old church already has a tradition of communal harmony with members of the Hindu community holding the traditional lamps during the annual procession of the church.

Thousands of participants of a 10-kilometre-long secular march against CAA on Saturday, which culminated at Kothamangalam, offered the namaz at the church premises. They also visited the church and clicked pictures along with priests.

Father Jose Parathuvayalil, vicar of the church, said that the church has been a pilgrim centre where members of all communities visit regularly. But it was for the first time that the church got the chance to host a namaz. It was indeed a great moment for all of us as it would highlight the communal harmony prevailing here, he told DH.

Sayyid Munavvar Ali Shihab Thangal, son of Indian Union Muslim League's former state president Panakkadu Sayyid Muhammed Ali Shihab Thangal, who led the namaz, said in a social media post that the gesture of the church was a great relief amidst the tension prevailing among the community members. The church vicar himself was providing water to the Muslim believers for the ablution, he added.

Youth Congress leader and All India Professional Congress state president Mathew Kuzhalnadan had initiated talks with the church authorities for allowing the namaz at the church premises and the church authorities were more than happy to allow it, he said.