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In this Kerala temple, Muslim man sings for deity as priests perform rituals

Joushal Babu at Shree Bhavaneeswara Temple, Palluruthy in Kochi. Image Credit: Special Arrangement.

For the last 15 years, a Muslim man has been rendering Sopana Sangeetham accompanied by his percussion instrument (Edakka) at Shree Bhavaneeswara Temple in Kochi, Kerala.  Every day, 43-year-old Joushal Babu stands by the side of the holy steps (sopanam) leading to the sanctum sanctorum of the temple at Palluruthy and his mellifluous sound fills the air with devotion as the priests perform the temple rituals.

His devotion to the deity and the job has made him rise before sunrise daily to perform this customary temple task without fail for the last 15 years. Clad in the traditional mundu (dhoti), Joushal meticulously sings the lyrics praising the deity. Joushal Babu came to the temple as a disciple of famous Sopana Sangeetham musician Nairambalam Unnidayanandan in 1990.

Joushal Babu at Shree Bhavaneeswara Temple Palluruthy in Kochi Kerala

When his master passed away in 2008, the temple authorities bestowed him with the responsibility to continue singing the Sopanam at the temple. Despite being a religious Muslim, he wholeheartedly accepted the task as he considers all places of worship as abode of Gods. Though he renders Sopana Sangeetham at the temple, he hasn’t skipped Juma prayers on Fridays at the nearby mosque.

“I haven’t faced any discrimination from devotees or temple authorities. In fact, they have all supported and encouraged me. I am fully devoted to the task assigned to me and I love rendering songs at the temple as part of the rituals,” Joushal Babu told “Open Digest”.

Apart from Edakka, Joushal also plays Chenda, another percussion instrument. Over the years, he has performed in many places of worship. “Each opportunity to perform is blessings from God. I am happy and will continue to perform with more passion and gratitude,” he said. He had performed at Thrikakkara temple and also at Kanjoor Church. Joushal is an inspiring example of religious harmony in action. Joushal also teaches a lot of students. Bound by love beyond lines of religion, here is one devotee who truly sees God in every song.

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