KERALA: Every year between 10 and 50 million people leave their villages and trek on foot to pay homage to the shrine of Lord Ayyappa at his mountain-top abode in Kerala’s Western Ghats.
All pilgrims eat and travel together; and more remarkable still pray not only at the temple but also at the town’s mosque. They do this in memory of the legendary assistance given to Lord Ayyappa by a Muslim warrior named Vavar.
“We Muslims believe in only one God,” said the mosque’s imam. “But we respect all religions. The Hindus respect Vavar, and we believe also that he was a great saint. So where is the problem? They believe what they believe. But if they come here we must be hospitable and make them welcome…The whole world is fighting about religion. But this is a place where you can show the light of peace, a place that brings all religions together. All human beings are equal here. There is a lesson here for everybody.”
Read more: Communal Harmony