Idli-sambar iftars? This Dubai Malayali couple has been hosting them for 20 years

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Dubai: Is it only biriyani and deep fried snacks that make for an 'iftar' meal? A Malayali couple in Dubai is spreading a unique message of unity and brotherhood by organizing community 'iftar' and serving the vegetarian south Indian dishes 'idli' and 'sambar' over the last 20 years. Colleagues, friends, and people from their native place take part in the opening of the Ramadan fasting arranged by Mohan Kumar and Jayasree of Radha Bhavan, Pathirippalam, Palakkad.

The couple says that the satisfaction and energy derived from the initiative are immeasurable. Over 250 people participated in the latest iftar held at Mohan Kumar's company headquarters.

Incidentally, the idli-sambar iftar has an interesting story behind it. Four of Mohan Kumar's friends used to get together regularly at his house in Hoor Al Hassan, Dubai. The attraction was the idli and sambar prepared by Jayasree. One year after Mohan Kumar came to UAE, during the week before Ramzan in 1999, his friends made a suggestion. "Let Mohan arrange this year's iftar. We don't want anything more than the Jayasree’s idli and sambar," they said. The couple gladly agreed.

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For the first opening of the fast, Mohan Kumar invited these four friends to his house. After the feast, he realized that there was something deeply inspirational in the initiative that compelled one to repeat it.

From then onwards, the couple started organizing the event every year. The number of guests too witnessed a steady increase over the years. From four, it went up to 10, 25 and finally 250, who included relatives, friends and many people from Mohan Kumar's native place Pathiripplam. As the couple could not accommodate the growing number of people at their house, Mohan Kumar shifted the venue to the big hall at the workshop of his employer, Al Naboodah Group.

Now Mohan Kumar’s guests include colleagues from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Jordan and Egypt, apart from India. The entire expenses of around Rs one lakh are borne by Mohan Kumar from his own pocket. While items like fruits, juices, Arabic mandi, chicken dishes, beef and vegetables are ordered from restaurants, every guest ensures that they taste the idli and sambar cooked by Jayasree herself.

Mohan Kumar told Manorama Online that it was his duty as a person living in Dubai to preserve brotherhood among people as well as promote communal amity. "Iftar has a humane aspect, especially in Gulf countries. When everybody is busy with their work, such events bring people together and enable exchange of friendly talk," he points out.

The company has also extended full support to Mohan Kumar's initiative.

As Mohan was born in and grew up at Pathirippalam and Lakkidi, which have a large Muslim population, he was familiar with the customs during Ramzan. However, it was only after he arrived in UAE that he, too, could share the blessings of the holy event. No wonder, Mohan Kumar he has arranged the iftar for thousands of people so far and he is only eager to serve more guests.

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