Muslim families grow lotuses for temples in Kerala village


As the mist slowly lifts from the water, a group of men bend down to meticulously start plucking the lotus buds that cover the lake’s surface. These buds will travel to temples across Kerala and other States.

The men are all Muslim and Edakkulam, also known as Thamara Kayal or ‘lotus lake’, is in Thirunavaya, a predominantly Muslim village in Kerala’s Malappuram district. Here, some 1,500 acres of waterbodies are filled with lotus blooms: Valiyaparappur Kayal, Cheriyaparappur Kayal, Pallar Kayal and Manneduthakund and more.

For over 50 years, the Muslims of Thirunavaya have been growing lotuses for supply to major temples, including those at Thrissur, Guruvayur, Chennai, Bengaluru and Coimbatore.

“There are no restrictions from the temples or from our community. Everyone appreciates our work,” says lotus farmer Chakkali Parambil Musthafa. Aslam Karakkadan, who has been growing lotuses for over 25 years, says, “The buds are sold for ₹2 to ₹5 a piece, depending on their size.”

The other members of these families transport the flowers to temples. “We supply 7,000 to 8,000 flowers on an average each day,” says Karakkadan. “The Guruvayur temple requires 400 flowers a day.”

“The returns are lower than for other crops,” says Musthafa, “but the goodwill generated is enormous.”

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