Muharram Festival

Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar; it marks the beginning of a new Islamic year. Muharram month is recognized to be the second divine month after Ramadan. The month denotes the blessed day of Ashura. According to the Islamic record, Ashura day comes on the 10th day of Muharram. Although Muharram is a primary an Islamic holiday, people of other religions take part in observing its activities in India.

Generally, Muslims fast on the 9th, 10th and 11th day of Muharram, being the best fast to observe after the month of Ramadan. It is guessed that fasting on Muharram atones the sins of the following year. Additionally, Muslims also attend special prayer meetings in mosques or in their homes. They gather and arrange large processions. They parade on the streets, holding posters of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his followers.

Not all Muslim groups have the same traditions of this occasion. Some Muslims consider Muharram as the month of mourning, celebrating the Battle of Karbala. It is believed that Imam Hussain Ibn Ali, Imam Hussain Ali, was the third Imam of the Shia population. He was the grandson of prophet Muhammad, who was killed on this day. That is why the entire Shia Association whips themselves with sharp objects on their heads and bach on Muharram. Whereas Shia Muslims consider Muharram as a sorrowful occasion, Sunni Muslims observe it as a festival and look at Ashura as a happy day, with the religious aspect intact. The Sunni community celebrates by fasting.

In India, the tenth day of Muharram is an announced holiday; it is a day off for many workers in India. On this day, government offices, post offices and banks are closed. Islamic stores, businesses and organizations whether close or reduce opening hours. There are large meetings and parades that cause local disruption to traffic. Thus, those wishing to use public transport on this day may need to check the timetables, contacting the local transport.

Almost 25% of Kerala’s population are Muslims, locally known as Mappilas. Kerala Mappilas inhabit the regions of Calicut and Malapuram districts of the state. Shia communities of Kerala celebrate the festival to memorize the tragic death of Imam Hussain Ali. Many Muslim in Kerala can be seen beating their chests, crying out Ya Hussein! In addition, Pulikali, or Tiger Dance, is a common feature of the Muharram in Kerala. Muslims who participate in the Tazias, means to show sympathy, put on masks and paint their bodies so they look like a tiger.

In Hyderabad, Muharram is one of the most popular festivals. The city is a Muslim predominant city, with above 90% of population. On Ashura day, the tenth day of Muharram, Shia communities arrange a procession. The procession starts from Dabeerpura Flyover, reaching Alawa-e-Sartouq Mubarak at Darushafa, a Shia Majority area in Hyderabad. A short Majlis is arranged there. After finishing this, these Majlis black flags are removed and red flags are hoist.

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