Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
It’s something that has been building up over the past week. Today, I just lost my temper and decided to write about it, which seems to be the best way to get it out of my system.
Yeah, that’s how I’ve been lately.
So I wrote an answer last week about what do Malayalis think about Bengalis. And I’m quite happy to say that it garnered a lot of attention, appreciation and (at the time of writing this answer) 1330 upvotes…which is not bad at all. It has been viewed 215k times and has also been shared 137 times. Oh, here’s the link to the answer →
When you have an answer that has garnered so much attention, it goes without saying that it will be attacked by the infamous trolls of Quora. And my answer was no different. So if you look at the answer and the comments beneath it, you’d see a lot of people finding Point#4 to be hilariously funny. The way they were laughing and joking about it, it was like I’d just written a Russell Peters joke. And I just didn’t get the funny part. There was nothing hilarious about what I wrote.
I wrote that the communal harmony in Kerala and West Bengal is better than what it is in most other states. I did not say it is the best. I just said it was better…and people simply lost their minds. Most of them were vehemently opposing the statement making it sound like people of different faiths were actually flying at each others necks in Kerala and West Bengal. Pathetic!
I am a Keralite and hence, I would take the liberty of speaking only on behalf of my state, although I would assume from what I have understood that what I am about to write holds true for West Bengal as well.
Being a Keralite, I obviously know how it is in my home state much more than any non-Keralite. I can say with utmost conviction that Hindus, Christians and Muslims have no issues with each other in the state and everyone lives in peace. Yes, there are reports of riots. But they are political. Purely political. I will never claim that Kerala is a politically peaceful state. It is not. Political parties are continually sparring with each other. There are even murders and stuff as a result of political rivalries. But if an Ahmed and an Ramkumar live in adjacent houses, Ahmed does not hate Ramkumar, and Ramkumar does not hate Ahmed. There is no demonization of any faith and its people. There is no Islamophobia, or any phobia against any religion. And why should there be something like that? Nobody is threatened in Kerala because of what religious beliefs they have. If you look at the demographics of Kerala, approximately half the state is comprised of Hindus, and approximately a quarter each by Muslims and Christians. So Muslims and Christians are not strictly the minority in Kerala. Why is this so? Because we believe in live and let live. And because we are not stupid to think that one faith is superior to another. Because…education. We are perfectly capable to think sensibly for ourselves and not blindly follow the diktats of some religious leader who orders people to do this or that to people of another faith. Fortunately, we are much above all that.
My father grew up in a village in the district of Malappuram in Kerala. His family was the local zamindars there and their village comprised mainly of Muslims. Even then, Malappuram was inhabited mainly by Muslims. While growing up, I have heard my father reminisce fondly about how kind and caring Muslims were to him and his family. They all lived in happiness. Even today, when we visit Kuttippuram, Dad’s old acquaintances are overjoyed to see us. They call us home and practically smother us with their hospitality. There’s so much genuine love that one feels humbled. I remember once we were returning after a courtesy visit to one of the houses there and the hosts had filled the boot of our car with whatever things they could give us at such a short notice – a huge cluster of bananas from their orchard, baskets of mangoes, tapioca, fruit preserves, etc. We were truly touched.
My maternal grandfather had a friend named Emmanuel. On every Christmas day, a huge home-made plum cake would be sent to our home from Emmanuel uncle’s home. When my grandfather was alive, they used to even send live ducks, chicken, meat, etc. to make the Christmas feast (my grandfather later told him not to send any live animals). It’s been so many years since both my grandfather and Emmanuel uncle have died. But to this day, the tradition has been kept alive by his children and grandchildren.
So this is the kind of impression that I had about other faiths while growing up. And it’s only natural that I would get totally p****d off when I read people writing comments like what has been written under my answer.
But politics is different. All those fights and riots you hear/read about are politically motivated. An average Malayali’s political allegiance starts from his/her school days and for them, their party and its principles are above anything and everyone. Do you think they would be so shallow as to go about killing somebody because they belong to another faith? They would probably do that to somebody in a rival political party. But if you assumed that it is solely because of one’s faith, then I must say that you are grossly misinformed about how stuff works in Kerala.
Recently we had the entire beef ban fiasco in Kerala. Was it Muslims and Christians against the Hindus? No. There was just a bunch of people protesting against the ban, and they comprised of people of all faiths. What does that tell you? There is nothing Hindu vs. Muslim vs. Christian here. People need to get that into their heads. I know it might be difficult to digest the fact that a state can actually be politically volatile and communally harmonious. But India is a land of diversity and this is Kerala’s two pence.
I don’t say that there are no religious hardliners in Kerala. Yes they are there. But their numbers are nothing compared to the majority who aren’t. And they are often viewed as societal oddballs. That is why I said communal harmony is better than what it is in most other states. People really need to understand the difference.