Sheena Karuvanthody, a middle-aged working woman from a village named Valiyad near here, never anticipated that a kiss of love that she planted on the cheek of a little boy on Thursday could win a million hearts. Yes, it did.
Ms. Sheena became a symbol of Kerala’s communal harmony with that kiss that she gave to the boy who led a Milad-e-Sherif rally at Valiyad.
The kiss was, in fact, supplementary and a natural end to another graceful act of communal harmony that Ms. Sheena did. Sending a larger message to the entire country, Ms. Sheena welcomed the rally taken out by the children of Tadreesul Islam Madrasa, Valiyad, with a currency garland.
“It was a moment of pride and thrill for us all. We have been living in such harmony here that religions never divide us,” said Sukanya, Sheena’s co-sister. “Excitement and happiness have soared sky-high,” she said.
Ms. Sheena grew up watching Milad rallies from her childhood and the desire to garland the children remained rooted in her mind for long. The excitement and cheer that her action triggered spilled over to the Internet with people celebrating her as the hero and symbol of Kerala’s communal harmony.
A video that went viral on the social media shows Ms. Sheena in a purple saree waiting in the rain with her little daughter. On seeing her, the rally stops. Ms. Sheena crosses the road, walks up to the front, garlands the rally captain, and plants him a kiss on his left cheek.
“That was a kiss on the cheek of Kerala’s communal amity. The people will not forget it. We will cherish it until our last breath,” said Mohammed Nibras, who works with Ms. Sheena in a builder’s office here.
Hundreds of Milad rallies were taken out across the State on Thursday celebrating the birthday of Prophet Mohammed, the last of Islamic prophets. The celebrations were largely centred on madrasas. Children and elders alike took part in the celebrations. When the traditional Sunni Muslims celebrated by chanting hymns in praise of Prophet Mohammed, the occasion provided a platform for madrasa children to display their abilities in singing and elocution.