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India AP PHOTOS: Pandemic casts pall over Muharram in Kashmir



DAR YASIN Related Press

August 29, 2020, 3:09 PM

four min learn

SRINAGAR, India — For Nasir Hussain, observing the Muslim month of Muharram, which marks the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson within the battle of Karbala, is an article of religion.

However because the coronavirus spreads in Indian-controlled Kashmir, he and his prolonged household favor to commemorate the holy days inside their dwelling within the disputed area’s major metropolis.

“We’ve to outlive this epidemic to maintain the mission of Imam Hossein alive,” mentioned Hussain, a enterprise government, explaining that the virus has not stopped them from mourning however solely from going to neighborhood congregational halls.

On a latest humid August evening, Hussain’s household sat within the brightly lit drawing room at their residence at Srinagar’s sprawling Dal Lake, attentively listening to a spiritual broadcast on cable TV. The preacher narrated the occasions at Karbala, the seventh century battle in present-day Iraq as Hussain’s household sometimes cried. They beat their chests and chanted spiritual slogans, a part of the ritual to recollect Imam Hossein and his 72 fallen companions.

“For us, Imam Hossein represents the top of affection, sacrifice and preventing for justice and freedom,” Hussain mentioned. “Our hearts soften when Muharram arrives.”

Muharram is among the many holiest days for Shiite Muslims internationally and contains giant processions of mourners beating their chests whereas reciting elegies and chanting slogans to denounce the slaughter of Hossein and his companions. The mourning reaches its peak on Ashura, the 10th day of the month within the Islamic lunar calendar.

This 12 months, many of the trustworthy residents in Kashmir are following the recommendation of non secular students and well being consultants to limit ceremonies to their properties.

There may be additionally a three-decade ban imposed by the federal government on the principle Muharram processions within the heart of Srinagar, in place since an armed insurgency erupted towards Indian rule. On Thursday, authorities reiterated that strict restrictions would proceed on all spiritual processions and gatherings throughout the Kashmir Valley.

Such measures are notably galling to Kashmiri Muslims. They’ve lengthy complained that the federal government curbs their spiritual freedom on the pretext of legislation and order whereas selling and patronizing an annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Himalayan Amarnath Shrine in Kashmir that pulls a whole bunch of hundreds of holiday makers.

Whilst virus restrictions proceed, the ritual of multi-course neighborhood meals through the monthlong ceremonies has taken a unique form. Whereas some are donating cash spent on Muharram feasts to charities, many are distributing meals packets door-to-door of their neighborhoods.

In some localities, individuals sporting masks collect in small teams late within the night for Muharram rituals whereas sustaining bodily distance.

Final week, seven girls sat in a circle inside an outdated shrine in downtown Srinagar and wailed in mourning. Black banners, some calligraphed with Islamic slogans, had been draped on buildings and hung throughout streets.

Some residents imagine that even when they fall sick, a Muharram mourning will treatment them.

Just a few giant outside processions nonetheless occurred and morphed into protests, with mourners calling for an finish to Indian rule.

On Wednesday, authorities forces fired tear gasoline within the outskirts of Srinagar to thrust back members of a procession who chanted “We would like freedom” and “Oppressors, go away our Kashmir.”

A day earlier, police charged not less than seven individuals underneath an anti-terror legislation for elevating anti-India slogans throughout one other spiritual procession. Officers mentioned not less than 200 individuals had been detained in Srinagar this week for taking part in Muharram processions.

Circumstances have worsened in Kashmir since August final 12 months, when New Delhi stripped the area of its statehood and semi-autonomy, setting off widespread anger and financial break underneath a harsh safety clampdown.

Amid a communications blockade, authorities disallowed worshipers to wish at some mosques and restricted devotees visiting revered shrines for months.

Such restrictions have largely been lifted, however authorities have cited the virus lockdown as a purpose for banning this 12 months’s basic Muharram gatherings.

Hussain, the enterprise government, mentioned Muharram continually reminds humanity “to not compromise with tyrants and tyranny.”

“It teaches us what Imam Hossein mentioned: no to humiliation,” he mentioned.


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