Solemnity, sombreness and mourning during the annual procession marked ‘Yaum-e-Ashura’ in Hyderabad on Friday.
Thousands of people participated in the historic ‘Bibi ka Alam’ procession which passed through various parts of the old city before concluding at Chaderghat on the banks of Musi River in the evening.
‘Yaum-e-Ashura’ or the 10th day of Muharram, the first month of Islamic calendar, is observed in memory of the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussain and his followers at the battle of Karbala.
After a gap of one year, the ‘Bibi ka Alam’ was carried on a caparisoned elephant. Last year due to restrictions in view of Covid-19 and on the direction of High Court, it was carried on a motor vehicle.
The ‘Bibi ka alam’ is believed to contain a piece of wooden plank on which Bibi Fatima Zehra, daughter of Prophet Muhammad, was given the final ablution. The ‘alam’ was installed over 430 years ago during the Qutb Shahi dynasty.
Self-flagellating mourners led the procession, which began in the afternoon from Bibi ka Alawa in Dabeerpura.
The procession passed through Sheikh Faiz Kaman, Etebar Chowk, Kotla Alijah, Charminar, Gulzar Houz, Panjeshah, Mandir Mir Alam, Purani Haveli, and Darulshifa before concluding at Chaderghat.
A total of 24 groups participated in the mourning along the procession route. Blood oozed out from the heads and chests of bare-chested Shia mourners who flagellated themselves with sharp-edged objects
Amid cries of ‘Ya Hussain’ and recitation of ‘marsiyas’ (elegies) and ‘noha-khwani’ (poems expressing sorrow), barefoot youths using knives, blade-encrusted chains and other sharp-edged weapons, inflicted injuries on themselves to show solidarity with the sufferings of the martyrs. Others were seen weeping and beating their chests.
The police made elaborate security arrangements for the procession. Additional forces were deployed along the procession route as the day coincided with Friday prayers.
Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar and other officers offered ‘dhattis’ to the Alam at Charminar. The police chief monitored the security arrangements for the procession
Family members of the Nizam, the ruler of erstwhile Hyderabad state, offered ‘dhattis’ at Purani Haveli. Leaders of various political parties also offered ‘Dhattis’. They included Congress’ state Working President Anjan Kumar Yadav.
An elephant brought from Maharashtra carried the ‘Alam’ this year. Following a representation by the Nizam’s Religious Trust, which is the custodian of ‘Bibi ka Alam’, and other Shia organisations, the Telangana government had granted permission for use of an elephant for the procession.
Madhuri, 38, was brought from Kolhapur to carry the ‘Alam’ during the annual procession. For decades, elephant Rajini from the Nehru Zoological Park was used for the procession. This was stopped in 2019 following orders of High Court that captive elephant cannot be used for religious processions.
Sunni Muslims observed the day by fasting and holding meetings to remember the sacrifices of Imam Hussain and his followers who were martyred in 61 Hijri or 681 CE at Karbala in present day Iraq.
The fasting is observed on two days – ninth and 10th or 10th and 11th Muharram.