fbpx
Thursday, February 25, 2021

Muslim tales from the east

An exhibition offers insight into how Islam came to be a vital part of the state of Kerala

Reading Time: 3 minutesOld Government House was abuzz with the sounds of the traditional Oppana (a ritual dance performance for brides) as we entered the courtyard. Little girls aged 4-6 years, clad in kachi (a kind of wraparound skirt), kuppayam (blouse), and thattam (scarf) moved delightfully to the traditional tunes. As their scarves glazed in the winter sun and shone bright like their sparkly eyes, they became the perfect introduction to the exhibition Kerala’s Muslim Culture staged at the historic venue.

Artefacts from Keralite life

It was part of the exhibition Tales from the East: NSW and India. (on till 26 August 2018). Organised as a joint venture between Australian Malayalee Islamic Association (AMIA) NSW chapter, National Trust Australia and Old Government House, this exhibition offered an insight into how Islam evolved as one of the major religions of the state of Kerala.
Artefacts from Keralite life

And there was something for everyone – from mehndi (or mylanchi in Malayalam) to checking out the tastefully curated artefacts from Keralite life, to Duff Muttu (a dance in which boys dance to the rhythmic beats of duff, a percussion instrument), to authentic Keralan snacks like Unnakka (stuffed banana) and Unniyappam (snack made from rice, jaggery, banana, spices), and to cooking demos. Consul General of India (Sydney) B Vanlalvawna inaugurated the event.
Duff Muttu

A very unique addition to the event were the talks run in two sessions, almost throughout the day-long event. Commencing with one of the curators, Ian Stephenson from National Trust Australia talking about Gen. Macquarie and Kerala, it ranged from Kerala’s Islamic bequest to the tales of Eastern Medicine. It was quite interesting to go through posters hung on topics like ‘How does Islam elevate the status of women?’ and ‘What do Muslims think of Jesus’, that conveyed positive messages on balanced thoughts and religious integration.
Dr Ali Parappil, a representative of AMIA mentioned during a conversation that “this is an ‘Open day’ to portray the Malayalee Muslims that live in Australia”.
How Islam came to Kerala
Islam first came to India not via the north, as is commonly believed, but via the south. Unlike in the north, it came first as a peaceful religion, in the days of the Prophet Mohammad. Arab traders often visited the Malabar Coast as well as other destinations of the Far East and South Asia. In India, they were welcomed by the rulers. Around 625 AD, the Chera king Cheramun Perumal of Kerala came into close contact with Arab merchants who helped him out with a perplexing personal problem. He travelled to Mecca with them to meet Prophet Mohammad and converted to Islam, taking the name Taj-Ud-Din. He was the first Indian to accept Islam. However he fell ill on his return journey and died, but not before asking his chieftains to allow the new faith to be practised freely. He also bequeathed land for the first ever mosque in India, in Kodungallur town in central Kerala, 30 km north of Kochi. The town is known today as Cranganore, and the mosque, known by the name Cheraman Jum’ah Masjid, continues to stand to this day since it was first built in 628 AD. 

- Advertisement -

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Podcasts

Ep 9: What do young Indians want from love?

0
Growing up in Indian culture, most of us know that love has never been as popular as marriage. Even in the movies, the main...

Ep 8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s...

0
To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

0
  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Latest News

former liberal staffer dhanya mani (1)

Dhanya Mani on speaking out: “It felt like a moral imperative”

0
  Trigger warning – sexual harassment The disparity between women and men in every workplace across Australia is well understood, but less understood is the disparity...

Rowing champ Gauri Kotera

0
  With a streak of wins behind her, 14-year-old Gauri Kotera is now among the top five rowers under 16, in the state of NSW. The...

Raising guide dogs – at home

0
  As the clock struck midnight this past New Year’s Eve, the Bhandari family in Sydney celebrated in a rather unique way: taking care of...
driving school instructor, sexual harassment

“Hard kisser or soft kisser?”, my driving instructor asked me

0
  Trigger warning - sexual harassment I needed to pass my driver's test because my learner's license expires in April. As someone who is employed full...

Review: The Big Day (Netflix)

0
  Reality shows about weddings are nothing new if you consider the success of productions like Say Yes to the Dress, Say I Do, and...