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All residents mark Muharram in this Hindu-majority Tamil Nadu village

MADURAI: Muthuvanthidal near Thirupuvanam in Sivaganga district stands as an example of religious harmony as all the people in the village observe Muharram and participate in rituals, including ‘Poomithithal’ on the day.
The Fatima Nachiar mosque is said to have been constructed in 1952 and the Muslims in the village maintained it earlier. However, as a small population of Muslims migrated from the village, it is now a Hindu-dominated area. People, however, believe Fatima Natchiar to be their guardian angel and have constructed a new mosque near the old one and have been maintaining it.
While, Muslims come to the dhargah for Muharram, the people of this village observe the day by fulfilling their vows to their respective deity. Rituals such as ‘Poomithithal’ (walking on burning coals), and ‘Poomozhuguthal’ (where women wear a shawl over their heads and burning coals is held in it) mark the day.
“Nobody has sustained any injury due to this rituals as the goddess protects us,” said S Shanmugapriya from the village. About 20 women and 15 men redeemed their vows at the festival this year.
Most of the villagers are farmers and they believe in leaving their first harvest from the year’s produce at the doors of the mosque, before taking it to market. Ganeshan from the village said the pit for the fire walk is prepared about a week in advance, where they dug to about three-feet deep and ten-feet in width. People then fill it with firewood, over the week, and it is set on fire in the afternoon before Muharram. The fire walk and Poomuzhuguthal are performed around 2am on the day of Muharram. This year, the villagers said they prayed for the world to become free of Covid.

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