Kerala is a state in South India, known for its eco-tourism and scenery, it has been dubbed ‘God’s Own Country’. It has the highest HDI of all Indian states boasting a strong education sector, Arundhati Roy and Shashi Tharoor. It is also home to Sabrimala and Erumely, an example of how all faiths can live in harmony in a state home to Hindus and Muslims.
Sabrimala is home to a shrine dedicated to Vavar or Vavaraswami. It is believed that he arrived on the shores of Kerala to spread Islam. Lord Ayyappa, the HIndu God of Growth, was impressed with him and they became close associates. Vavar was beside Lord Ayyappa aiding him through wars in the mountainous regions.
The mosque in Erumely and the Shrine for Vavar was built at the instruction of Lord Ayyappa, the shrine is home to an old sword illustrating Vavar’s role as a great warrior who fought alongside Lord Ayyappa. In line with Islamic beliefs, there are no idols. A stone slab with carvings symbolises Vavar with a green silk cloth hung on the walls. Islamic rituals are still performed to this day.
“Consider Vavar as myself.”
These are the words Lord Ayyappa is believed to have spoken to his father, showing the strong friendship between the faiths. This friendship is considered to be as strong as that of Krishna and Arjunar
While there are varying narratives of how Lord Ayyappa and Vavar met and whether they started off as allies or opponents, once united they become brothers.
The mosque is built in Erumely, the gateway to Sabarimala, the shrine for Lord Ayyappa. There is an annual spiritual dance performed by devotees to commemorate Lord Ayyappa. Here devotees are barefoot, wearing black dhotis, with flowers, coloured powder and toy bow and arrows to mark this event.
The procession to Sabrimala starts from Erumely where the ritual begins, heading to Kochambalam home to another small temple in the centre of Erumely. The procession passes Vavar Palli, the mosque built by Lord Appayya, where they pay their respects to Vavar at the mosque first before continuing uphill to the Sabarimala Temple. In the same spirit, some Muslims in Kerala honour Lord Ayyappa
The devotion of Ayyappa is for members of all faiths and the ability to observe this in peace is shown equally to everyone. Erumely is home to spiritually important shrines, mosques and temples, the most important feature of this town is the harmony, understanding and prosperity between Hindus and Muslims, which has been part of the social fabric for eons.