CHENNAI: Fayaz Ali, a committee member of a mosque in Choolaimedu, had never thought he would ask people to wash their hands and legs at home before coming to the mosque to offer their prayers.
Toilets at the mosque, which were previously open to all throughout the day, are now kept open only during the time of prayer for limited persons. As the borewells have long run dry, the management is forced to buy water at exorbitant rates from private tankers. And one load of water lasts only for two days.
This is the current scenario that a majority of mosques in the city are facing due to the acute water shortage. In Islam, people are mandated to cleanse themselves with clean water before offering prayers. Hence, making water available in mosques is crucial.
Small and medium mosques are the worst hit as they don’t have sufficient funds to buy water from private tankers. As a result, they are asking regulars at the mosque for donations, especially to meet monthly water expenses. Fayaz says never before they faced such a severe crisis.
Lack of water, Muslims conduct wudu with sand
Several small mosques in the city are asking patrons to contribute funds to meet the monthly water expenses. Fayaz Ali, a committee member of a mosque in Choolaimedu, says he has never before seen such a prolonged crisis. "We have had to manage without water for couple of weeks, but never for months together like this time."
"Every couple of days, we are having to spend Rs 3,000 to buy water. We are having to seek donations from regular visitors to meet this expense," says Fayaz. Larger mosques, which can afford the money, say they aren't getting enough supply to meet the needs of the high number of visitors. It takes minimum 15 days to get water through private tankers.
How Tamil Nadu is dealing with the water crisis, in pictures. From (top, clockwise) Adambakkam Lake, Manapparai and Pudukkottai | Martin Louis/express
To minimise the consumption, some mosques are performing Wudu (cleansing ritual) using clean sand instead of water. During Ramzan, a few mosques in Gowrivakkam near Medavakkam put up boards, asking people to cleanse at home before coming to mosque.
"The mosque I visit, in Medavakkam, does not get water through bore wells anymore. They have fixed two 'Sintex' tanks which is filled with water bought from private tankers. The situation at mosques in Karur, Salem and Coimbatore is no better," says Umar Farook, a resident of Gowrivakkam.
"We pray six times on Friday and five times on other days. A small mosque has around 80 devotees on average while bigger ones have around 400. Meeting this demand is a big challenge," says the moulana of a mosque in Triplicane.