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Onion-Eaters Of Kerala

By B.F.Firos

19 October, 2015

Photo Credit: IBTimes

When Qutubuddin Ansari, the now-familiar face of Gujarat genocide, met Ashok Mochi, the Bajrang Dal leader who was pictured brandishing a sword during the riots, at a conciliatory event organized by the Kerala unit of CPM in Kannur, so many enthusiastic locals made a beeline to meet and greet the duo. Later, they told the media: “So many people came to see us here. But we couldn’t make out their religion.”

It was their epiphanic moment; a realization, and a far-cry from the greatly polarized and communally compartmentalized state they hail from. No doubt, they were in thrall of the distinctive characteristics of Kerala.

It is precisely this entrenched social system that helped Kerala fend off Sangh Parivar from pulling the state into the national quagmire of cow, its latest political tool, after the due expiration of the shelf value of Ram Mandir and Love Jihad. Primetime TV debates saw demagogic BJP leaders justifying the Dadri killing. But that cut no ice with the Kerala civil society. The many public beef fests conducted by Left student unions across the state saw crowds swarming and relishing the spicy beef served hot.

The BJP’s primetime-news warriors won’t be keen to admit it, but the fact is that beef is considered a secular (and succulent) meat in Kerala! And Hindus, obviously, are no exception when it comes to basking in this delectable beef journey. Undoubtedly, they will collectively show their impulsive middle fingers to anyone who will lecture them to skip their favorite parotta-beef combo. They prefer beef ecstasy to communal ecstasy and invariably scorn anyone who tries to hard sell the Sangh Parivar’s latest election tool in cow form.

Definitely vegetarians, a relative minority, do exist and they remain so not because they are intoxicated by any RSS ideology, but out of personal or religious reasons.

And, the Hindus (and other communities as well) in Kerala are mature enough to show political propriety and social sobriety to take this meat off their dining tables if eating it truly, madly and deeply hurts the religious sentiments of any Holy Texts; but they are unlikely to succumb to the poll pranks of RSS’s political face BJP.

K Surendran of BJP, one of the many ‘leaders’ whose only ticket to political glory is his almost-daily nocturnal appearances on TV primetime news, fell into a hot soup after a photo of him apparently munching parotta and beef in a restaurant went viral, making him the butt of massive trolling and online ridicule. He immediately went on defensive mode, saying that it was onion curry, not beef.

Thank God something like onion existed lest he wouldn’t have been able to make a deft use of it in order to easily extricate himself from the gastronomy-induced political predicament he found immersed in.

Photo Credit: ICU

Parotta-beef is a staple diet of Keralites. But parotta and onion curry is as weird a combo as Mother Teresa and Hitler! And the culinary connoisseurs of Kerala have knighted Surendran for adding this exotic culinary combination into the dining tables. And fervent efforts (GPS-Google included) to locate the restaurant selling this rare onion curry met with little success!

A social media user expressed his dismay over Surendran’s discovery in an online forum this way:

“It looks like he is eating parotta, I am from Kerala and I never been to a restaurant that offers parotta and Onion curry....it is always parotta and beef curry.....so he is most likely lying....most people in Kerala eat beef....then again i think its more Buffalo meat than beef.”

History teaches us that Kerala Hindus have shunned regressive practices like untouchability et al a long time ago, much before RSS reared its ugly head, and embraced modernity and civility, thanks to a wave of social reforms and renaissance movements and the good works of Christian missionaries. And efforts to airdrop the North Indian version of the caste system and all its concomitant paraphernalia including the cow-is-the-mother dogma into the state may not fetch the desired results, though it is a fact that BJP has made inroads here. But despite everything, it continues to be a liberal bastion till this day.

So Surendran need not to worry about the food on his plate as long as he lives in Kerala. He can eat whatever he wants in a place like this, even though his party’s attempt is to take away that very personal freedom.

(The author is a UAE-based journalist. firosbf@gmail.com)



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