Vettum Kuthum Ratheeb (Malayalam: വെട്ടും കുത്തും റാത്തീബ്) or simply Kuthu Ratheeb (Malayalam: കുത്തു റാത്തീബ്) is a ritual performed by a section of the Muslim (Mappila) population of the state of Kerala in India. Kuthu Ratheeb is performed at ritual festivals, mosques and homes. At homes they are done to escape from incurable diseases and to fulfil the aspirations of the people. The word "Kuthu Ratheeb" is a mixed form of Arabic verbal noun "Ratheeb" (which means something done repeatedly) and Malayalam verb "Kuthuka" (which means to stab or to use any weapon upon someone's body). The ritual consists of acts like piercing parts of the ones own body like the tongue, the ear, and the stomach with knives and sharp-edged steel tools. Hymns known as Byths or Ratheebs are sung during the ritual. (There are more than twenty different byths being used). Arabana (a percussion instrument similar to daf) and Kinnaram are the main musical instruments used in Kuthu Ratheeb. The followers and protagonists of the ritual believe, that even though injuries are inflicted on the bodies of the performers by weapons, these do not cause pain or damage to the body. They believe that, since the ritual is performed by, devotees who have received "ijazath" (permission) from their "sheikh" (deity), it will not cause injuries.
While follower of the ritual portray Kuthu Ratheeb as a folklore art, Islamic revivalist as well as reformist movements in Kerala (like Islahi Movement in Kerala) maintain that this ritual is, in fact, a deviation from the original teachings of Islam and that neither do the Quran, nor the Prophet Muhammad did advocate either this particular ritual, or rituals of this kind.
Kuthu Ratheeb is connected with the Sufi saint, Syed Ahmad Kabir Rifai, who lived in Iraq. In Malabar, Kuthu Ratheeb is still practised as a popular art by the Muslims. The village of Pothattippara on Malappuram to Kondotti road is famous for the Kuthu Ratheeb.
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