Biryani, clothes, henna on palms: Eid in Kerala flood relief camps

Shaju Philip
Volunteers also reached out to those who are in their own homes, where water has receded but life is yet to return to normal, with a meal of celebration. (Photo for representational purpose)

Their homes have been lost to flood fury, but families lodged in relief camps in Kerala got their slice of Eid celebrations on Monday.

Several organisations, as well as inpiduals, stepped in to arrange for a sumptuous meal and new clothes for those living at relief camps in Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad districts the worst-hit by the floods this year. Volunteers also reached out to those who are in their own homes, where water has receded but life is yet to return to normal, with a meal of celebration.

Safiya M, 48, one of the 700 inmates at a camp at Mampad, said, The flood has taken away everything. But Allah has sent caring people to this camp. Today, I have got new clothes and henna on my hands. The future is still uncertain, but unknown people have filled happiness in our lives, at least for this day, she said.

Revenue department official Baiju John, co-ordinator of the camp, said there is no shortage of supply. We have cooked biryani for over 1,000 persons as part of Eid celebrations after a businessman contributed all the items required. Now we are planning some cultural programmes to lift the spirits of the people here.

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Writer and professor Maina Umaiban, one of the volunteers at the camp, said the camp has 300-odd women and 140 children. We wanted every woman and child to get a new set of dress. Bundles of dress came yesterday but that was not enough for all. When organisations and inpiduals contributing to the relief efforts asked us about the requirements at the camps, we told them about new dresses for Eid. A fresh set of clothes came in today, she said.

Those living at Keezhuparamba village also got an Eid dinner. Of the 210 people here, only a dozen are Muslims. Yet, we wanted to ensure that everyone is taken care of. Provisions for ghee rice and chicken curry have reached the camp. Also, the Muslim families have got new clothes, said camp co-ordinator K Valsala.

Towns and residential areas ravaged by rivers are limping back to normalcy. Provisions in shops have been damaged and there is a shortage of essential items. Many of us have returned home just because water has receded. To purchase a candle, I have to travel 25 km. There is no potable water to cook food. So, we waited for supply of food from the local mosque committee, said P K Hamsa, a resident of Maitra village, where floodwaters have receded, leaving behind sludge.

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Aminakutty (74), a resident of Vadapuram, said the flood has taught everyone that even bundles of money would not help the rich celebrate this festival. Everyone is now subsisting on supply from outside, she said.

After offering namaz at mosques, several youths were seen helping people clean their flood-ravaged homes.

Zacharia K, a school teacher, said, At camps, we wanted to give maximum happiness to those affected by the flood. But outside the camps, celebrations were minimal. Everyone is working to bring life back on track.