Kerala's Nadapuram: Where Muslim babies were breastfed by Hindu women and vice versa

 “I first heard of this unique ‘milk kinship’ from my grandmother. Different anecdotes over the same were heard from my mother, father and his friend,” Nadapuram native Arafat said.

Published: 14th September 2019 05:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th January 2020 05:26 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOZHIKODE: Polarisation between Hindu and Muslim communities of Nadapuram has been much talked about in the wake of the communal clashes. However, many years ago, there existed an unparalleled kinship between the two communities, which was nourished with breast milk.

In his Facebook post, Delhi University assistant professor and Nadapuram native Yasser Arafat elaborates on how Muslim babies were breastfed by Hindu women in his home town. 

Arafat came out with the Facebook post in the wake of a video of a Muslim religious speaker Simsarul Haq Hudavi appearing on social media in which he exhorts his community members to desist from taking part in Onam-Christmas celebrations as it amounted to polytheism. Though the video is old, it resurfaced on social media ahead of Onam.

 “I first heard of this unique ‘milk kinship’ from my grandmother. Different anecdotes over the same were heard from my mother, father and his friend Kalarikkal Narayani,” said Arafat who had submitted a research paper on the topic, Transcending breasts: Milk kinship, Identities and Communal living in Malabar. “My father was breastfed by two Hindu women. Many of my uncles were breastfed by Hindu women. There were Hindu children who were breastfed by Muslim women as well. All these wonderful people shared a unique camaraderie transcending religious differences,” said Arafat. 

Multiple reasons

According to him, there were multiple reasons for this unique kinship.

“There were many Hindu women working as domestics in affluent Muslim households. During that time, irrespective of religion, women had many children and often the kids were breastfed by domestics or neighbours belonging to another community. Also, kids who lost their mothers were breastfed by women often belonging to another community. I have a relative named Poyil Abdulla who was breastfed for years by a Thiyya woman,” said Arafat.

According to him, caste was not a factor as both Nair and Thiyya women breastfed Muslim kids. 

Moidu-Chirutha kinship

The fraternal bond between K Moidu Moulavi and Chirutha is a glowing example of ‘milk kinship’ in Nadapuram. Moulavi was a prominent leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami and he was breastfed by a Hindu woman who had a daughter named Chirutha. Moulavi and Chirutha were treated as siblings. Retired teacher M A Vanimel said it was at a public meeting held in the wake of Nadapuram flare-up the Moulavi disclosed his kinship with Chirutha.


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