There are two kinds of men in this world — those who have beards and the others who do not. Once considered to be a flowing proclamation of non-conformity, a beard is now looked upon as a fashion statement and a sign of machismo. Or is it? ‘No,’ says Muhammed Fais from Calicut. “At least not in Kerala.” In a state that celebrated No-shave November with gusto, there are some misconceptions that are hard to change. Muhammed should be in the know considering that he is a part of the Kerala Beard Society page on Facebook that has 300 bearded members spread across the state.
“Almost a year back, some of us like-minded people who love beards started a small group on the social media site and soon we started getting nasty comments asking if we were terrorists or drug addicts or just so poor that we had no money to shave. Men with full long beards are often perceived to be useless, irresponsible and loafers.” With an aim to change this perception, the members of the group started a page exclusively for those proud of their long, flowing beards.
The members decided to beard the lion in his den by adopting charity work as a way of sending across the message that they were not a frivolous group but were members, serious about bringing about a change in society by doing their bit.
“To a society that looked at us with suspicious eyes, we replied not by a war of words, but by doing something productive and by busting the stereotypes. We are all normal individuals who just happen to love our beards.”
The group members spend time in orphanages and old age homes, spreading cheer to the inmates and providing them food. Muhammed adds, “We have doctors, lawyers and others in our group as well as people from various religions, political affiliations and caste. When any member joins, what is paramount is that he have a social commitment and of course, a beard. We also help each other within the group.”
There is another silver lining, “Some of our members have acted in films. Directors call us up looking for individuals with long beards for their films.”
The members of the society are increasing and they also have a WhatsApp group which exchanges information and meet up regularly. Before ending, Muhammed says, “We want to adopt a school and provide whatever infrastructure we can and look after the welfare of kids.”...