Fasting, mourning, processions mark Muharram

New Delhi/Hyderabad/Mumbai/Srinagar : Fasting, mourning and processions by the Muslim community in various parts of India Tuesday marked the Yaum-e-Ashura, the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, a grandson of Prophet Mohammed, and others in the battle of Karbala, nearly 1,400 years ago.

Muharram processions were held in various parts of Delhi.

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“At least 60 processions were held in each of the 11 police districts in Delhi and there was no untoward incident,” Special Commissioner of Police (law and order) Deepak Mishra told IANS.

In Trilokpuri, which last month witnessed communal violence, Aman (peace) Committee members headed the Muharram procession amid heavy presence of police and paramilitary forces.

The Aman Committee – a group of 40 Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian members – has played a crucial role in maintaining peace in Trilokpuri where communal violence erupted Oct 23 over Diwali celebration, that injured 60 people, including policemen.

Earlier, the group ensured a peaceful “Jagran”, a Hindu religious gathering, the police officer said.

Over 30 Hindu volunteers along with the members of the Aman Committee headed a peaceful Muharram procession in the presence of over 1,200 policemen, including paramilitary forces.

Hindu volunteers also organised ‘Chhabil’, a water stall, along with Muslims.

Additional companies of police, Rapid Action Force and Border Security Force were deployed in Trilokpuri as a precautionary measure.

Police used unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, for recce of the area.

Sharp-edged objects like blades as well as chains and whips, which are traditionally used by the devout to inflict physical pain on themselves as part of Muharram mourning, were not allowed during the procession.

Prince and King, two Delhi Police stallions, were at work since 6 a.m. Tuesday ensuring a smooth Muharram in Trilokpuri.

Prince, 12, and King, 15, are part of Delhi Police’s horse unit, officially called the Mounted Police.

In Mumbai, thousands of mourners wept and beat their chests in processions in south Mumbai and other Muslim-dominated areas of Thane and Navi Mumbai.

They raised cries of “Ya Hussain”, and distributed food, water and juices to the poor in many localities.

Many people from other communities also participated in the processions which peacefully went through their routes amidst tight police security. No untoward incidents were reported from anywhere, on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar.

In Hyderabad, mourning procession, public meetings, fasting and feeding of the poor were organised on Muharram.

A mood of mourning pervaded and cries of “Ya Hussain” rent the air as the traditional procession passed through parts of the old city.

Blood oozed out from the heads and chests of hundreds of bare-chested Shia mourners who flagellated themselves with sharp weapons during the historic “Bibi ka Alam” procession.

The procession is taken out on a caparisoned elephant, preceded by a mounted police party and camels that carried small “Alams” (flags) and relics.

Amid recitation of “marsiye” (elegies) and “nohay” (poems expressing sorrow), the barefoot youths, using knives, blade-encrusted chains and other sharp-edged weapons, inflicted injuries on self to show solidarity with the sufferings of the martyrs.

The “Bibi ka Alam” is believed to contain a piece of wooden plank on which Bibi Fatima Zehra, daughter of Prophet Mohammed, was given the final ablution.

The “alam” was installed over 430 years ago during the Qutub Shahi period.

The “alam” also contains six diamonds and other jewellery donated by Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh and last Nizam of erstwhile Hyderabad State.

Hyderabad has about 200,000 Shias, the second largest population of the community in India after Lucknow.

Sunni Muslims observed the day by fasting and holding meetings to remember the sacrifices made by Imam Hussain and his followers.

Muharram was also observed in various parts of Telangana and neighbouring Andhra Pardesh in the traditional manner.

In Telangana’s Nizamabad district, a Muharram procession turned tragic as one person was electrocuted and 26 others were injured on coming in contact with a high tension wire.

In Srinagar, the authorities imposed restrictions and disallowed the main Muharram procession. Restrictions were imposed in and around the Abi Guzar area of the city.

Since the beginning of separatist violence in Kashmir in the early 1990s, the authorities have been putting curbs on the main Muharram procession to avoid clashes.

Smaller processions were, however, taken out in Zadibal in the old city area of Srinagar and in other parts of the Kashmir Valley, where Shia Muslims have a sizeable population.

No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the valley, police said.

Clashes, however, erupted in Nowgam area of Srinagar between protesters and police. The protesters were agitating against the killing of two youths in army firing in Chattergam village of Budgam district Monday.