Shia Muslims observed “Yaum-e-Ashoora” with the traditional ‘Bibi Ka Alam’ procession and mourning in this historic city Sunday.
Cries of “Ya Hussain” rent the air as blood oozed out from the heads and chests of the bare-chested Shia mourners in the mammoth procession.
It was all black and blood as a mood of mourning pervaded through the old city of Hyderabad, which has about 200,000 Shias, the second largest population of the community in India after Lucknow.
The historic procession was taken out from ‘Bibi Ka Alawa’ at Dabeerpura in the old city with hundreds of people clad in black beating their chests, remembering the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, and his followers in the battle of Karbala 14 centuries ago.
Amidst recitation of ‘marsiye’ (elegies) and ‘nohay’ (poems expressing sorrow), the bare-footed youths using knives, blade-encrusted chains and other sharp-edged weapons inflicted injuries on themselves to show solidarity with the sufferings of Imam Hussain and his family members.
It was on 10th Muharram, the first month of Islamic calendar, that Imam Hussain and his followers were martyred in 61 Hijri or 680 CE at Karbala in Iraq.
The procession with the ‘Bibi Ka Alam’ (insignias of the martyrs) kept on an elephant and ‘matam’ (mourning) by dozens of ‘matami’ groups passed through different areas of the old city including the historic Charminar.
Thousands of men, women and children lined up along the streets with many of them standing on balconies and roof-tops to catch a glimpse of the procession.
Hyderabad police chief Anurag Sharma, members of the royal family of Nizam (the rulers of erstwhile Hyderabad State) and leaders of various political parties enroute offered ‘dhatti’ to the ‘alam’.
After covering a distance of about five kilometre, the procession will conclude near Chaderghat after sunset. Police have made elaborate security arrangements in view of the recent communal clashes in the old city.
The ‘Bibi Ka Alam’ is believed to contain a piece of wood plank on which Bibi Fatima Zehra, daughter of Prophet Mohammed, was given the final ablution. The ‘alam’ was installed over 430 years ago during Qutub Shahi period.
The ‘alam’ also contains six diamonds and other jewellery donated by Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh and last Nizam of Hyderabad. Muharram was also observed in various parts of the Telangana region in the traditional manner.
Sunni Muslims observed the day with many devouts observing fast. In many Muslim neighbourhoods youngsters were seen offering ‘sharbat’ or special juice to passersby.