Lucknow observes ‘azadaari’ with ritualistic fervor, in tight security

By Kulsum Mustafa,,

Lucknow: Lucknow, the seat of Nawabi culture, and known the world over for its glorious tradition of azadaari, observed Muharram with the ritualistic fervor even as the state government made elaborate security arrangements to maintain law and order. The state capital of Uttar Pradesh and the seat of political power, Lucknow is also a highly sensitive city with a history of frequent ‘sectarian riots.’

Not taking any chances the police had made elaborate security arrangements. For the first time they used closed circuit television for the surveillance of not just a part but the entire Muharram processions routes. A temporary police control room was set up in the centre of the old city, the hub of Muharram activities, which had a direct tie-up with the CCTV control room at police state headquarters. This single point electronic monitoring gave the cops on duty a birds’ eye of the area through which processions passed, making it easier for the police to monitor the procession movements and check any anti-social element.

Besides, there was heavy deployment of manual vigil including, women police, Rapid Action Force, CRPF and PAC. Senior officers were entrusted with the task of looking after the peace and security arrangements during Muharram.

Thousands of Shia mourners attended the ‘Fatah-e-Furat’ majlis organized on the eighth day of Muharram (which fell this year on 26th December) on the banks of River Gomti and the Shab-e-Ashoor (9th Muharram) majlis at the Nazim Sahib Ka Imambara. Both these majlises were addressed by Syed Kalbe Jawwad, Shia cleric and Imam-e Juma. Earlier in the evening the cleric had addressed another gathering of mourners at Sibtainabad Imambara. This majlis was followed by ‘aag ka matam’ which saw enthusiastic youngsters walk over burning embers wearing green aprons, carrying the alams and reciting ‘Ya Husain.’

The last majlis of Ashra (ten days of Muharram) was addressed by Kalbe Jawwad at his ancestral imambara Gufran maab in the morning of 27th December. The majlis was followed by zanjeer and kama ka matam.

The dariya wala alam majlis was started by renowned Shia cleric and vice-president of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) Dr Kalbe Sadiq in the sixties. It has continued since then. While earlier the whole place was kept dark, with only the oil mashals providing the lights, now due to security reasons the place is now heavily lighted. Two public parks have also been built near the area making the place a less desolate and deserted. The electronic age has also taken over this majlis. Now full length video screens are installed for the convenience of those who come to hear the majlis. Besides, a full studio recording of the majlis is done. The majlis is addressed from a mosque situated just near the banks.

The River Gomti symbolically signifying the River Euphrates of Iraq created the perfect backdrop for a majlis on Hazrat Abbas, the brave son of Hazrat Ali who lost both his arms as he fought bravely to bring back a pitcher of water for the thirsty children of Imam Husain who had had no water or food for three days. This included Imam Husain’s six-month-old Ali Asghar and four-year-old daughter Hazrat Sakina.

There are various imambaras in the city like the Shahnajaf (a replica of Najaf), Bada Imambara and Chhota Imambara which apart from being great centers of religious gatherings are also architectural wonders.