New Delhi: Amid cries
of "Ya Hussain", thousands of Muslims in India flagellated
themselves in large processions Tuesday to mourn the killing of
Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, who was martyred
some 1,330 years ago at Karbala in Iraq on the 10th day of the
first Islamic month of Muharram.
In Delhi, thousands of Muslims took out processions at many places
to observe the day, also known as Yaum-e-Ashura, the day of
enlightenment, which is an important date in the Islamic calendar.
Muslims believe that many key events in Islamic history occurred
on the day, including the events of Karbala.
Holding flags and dressed in black, men and women, mostly
belonging to the Shia sect -- who along with Sunnis make up
India's 140 million Muslims -- took out processions, crying and
beating their chests in the ceremonial "maatam" or mourning.
Barefoot men with blades and other sharp-edged weapons flagellated
themselves and recited elegies in the memory of Hussain.
Delhi Police had put in place security measures to ensure that the
day passes off peacefully as it also coincided with the 1992 Babri
Masjid demolition anniversary.
"We had taken enough security measures for the processions in
Delhi, like every other year. It was a peaceful day," Delhi Police
spokesperson Rajan Bhagat told IANS.
The processions were taken out between mosques -- from Shia Jama
Masjid in Kashmere Gate to Punja Sharif Karbala in the same
locality and from Pahari Bhojla in Chittqualam near the historic
Jama Masjid to Karbala in Jorbagh near Lodhi Road.
Special prayers were offered at the historic Shahi Masjid
Fatehpuri and Khwaja Nizam-ud-din Auliya's shrine in south Delhi,
where Muslims paid homage to Hussain.
Processions were also taken out in Muslim-dominated areas of Uttar
Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra and West Bengal.
In Srinagar, the Jammu and Kashmir government has banned the
procession since the early 1990s for security reasons. However,
Shia Muslims still carry out small processions in the interiors of
the old city.
The authorities imposed restrictions in city centre Lal Chowk and
some adjacent areas in Srinagar to maintain law and order. Shops
and businesses were closed and vehicular traffic and pedestrian
movement remained suspended in Srinagar.
In Hyderabad, a mood of mourning pervaded the old city areas.
Cries of "Ya Hussain, Ya Hussain" rent the air as blood oozed out
of the heads and chests of the bare-chested mourners.
In Lucknow, a large number of Shia Muslims, in black clothes,
marched beating their chests and backs with chains and small
knives to feel the same pain that, they believe, was felt by
Hussain and his relatives.
On Muharram, considered a day of bereavement, Muslims observe
voluntary fasts, give to charity and pray in remembrance of
India has the third largest population of Muslims in the world,
after Indonesia and Pakistan.