Hyderabad Shias observe Muharram with huge procession


Hyderabad : It is all black and blood as a mood of mourning pervades through the old city of Hyderabad, marking “Yaum-e-Ashoora” or 10th day of Muslim month Muharram.

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Cries of “Ya Hussain” rent the air as blood oozes out from the heads and chests of the bare-chest Shia mourners in the mammoth “tazia” (mourning) procession.

Clad in black, the groups of mourners were beating their chests, remembering the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, and his followers in the battle of Karbala about 1,400 years ago.

The bare-foot youths, who were holding blades and other sharp-edged weapons in their hands, flagellated themselves amid “nowha khwani” (elegy singing).

Thousands of men, women and children joined the traditional “Bibi ka alam” procession, which passed through Muslim-majority old city.

While Sunni Muslims observed “Yaum-e-Ashoora” Saturday, the Shia sect observed it Sunday in the traditional manner. “Matam” or mourning started early Sunday at “ashoor khanas” and “alawas”.

At the historic “Bibi ka alawa” in Dabeerpura, hundreds of Shia mourners flagellated themselves. Later, the procession was taken out with an especially trained elephant Rajni carrying the “alam” or the flag, which symbolizes the martyrs.

Thousands lined the procession route to catch a glimpse of the “alam” and make their offerings. A couple of ministers, top police officials, members of royal family of Nizam, the ruler of erstwhile Hyderabad state, were among those who offered “dhatti” to the “alam”.

More than 4,000 policemen were deployed as part of the massive security arrangements for the procession, which passed through the historic Charminar and other major thoroughfares in the old city.

Traffic was diverted at several points to ensure smooth conduct of the procession.

The city has an estimated 200,000 Shias, the second largest Shia population in the country after Lucknow. Muslims constitute 40 percent of the city’s seven million population.