Sunday, December 27, 2009


Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar and also one of the sacred months of the year. Being religiously very significant, many rites and rituals are carried out in this month. The tenth day of this month is noteworthy being the death anniversary of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad. Processions are carried by the mourners on this day. More info on Muharram can be read here and here.

Street besides an Iranian Mosque

Imam Hussain sacrificed his life in the battle of Kerbala. The whole story of the sacrifice quite much revolves around water. The tragedy happened to be a hard one where the people fallen prey were refrained from having a single drop of water. They were un-courteously killed for having water or even being able to go near any water body. This is the reason why, today, during the month of Muharram one can find people courteously serving water on all the road sides. Stories of the martyrdom are narrated and acts are played on the same subject to make people aware of Islam and its virtues.

Decorations done on streets

Water being served on the streets

Last week, when we (me and my friend Dj) were on one of our Mumbai exploring days under the JJ flyover, we encountered a lot of rites and practices that were being followed for Muharram, that being the first day of the month and those were all the preparations for the tenth day. Water was being served on all streets and corners. The water stalls had been decorated with illustrations and holy writings that depicted and recited the tragic story. Muharram being the month of mourning, black color was a dominant one on all the decorations. Beautifully embroidered cloths were hung all over the place which illustrated the story. At the first glance I thought these clothes were printed, but a close look to it proved to be of a wonder! These were all machine embroidered cloths with aari embroidery in majority along with other kind of stitches. Embroidered with bright and bold colors on a black base gave these cloths a different look. These cloths reminded me of the patachitra paintings of Bengal, Mata-ni-pachedi of Gujarat, Pabuji par of Rajasthan and even the Pichvai paintings of Nathadwara all illustrating stories of gods and goddesses.

Cloth depicting the story of the need for water, killing of Imam Husain's horse etc

All these beautiful cloths are embroidered

We also had a chance to see some in-house decorations done for the occasion of Muharram. These decorations include a dummy horse of Imam Hussain, beautiful ornate metal (possibly silver) hands (each hand here represents each martyr) and many other things; all embellished by fabrics of glitter and sheen. Here are a few pictures showing these decorations.

Muharram decorations inside a house

This was indeed a very lively, welcoming and enriching explorience!!


Chaitalee Dangarwala said... [Reply]

WOW!!! I really like the way you explore

vaishali said... [Reply]

aarti good one, well I hear lot of
Noha's what are in punjabi, telling stories of battel and lot more and learning a lot about lot of islamic culture from my pakistani friend shaid.

and I just like learning more and good you are doing it so well

Aarti Badamikar said... [Reply]

It is so good to know about many religions and cultures. You always find a common thread that weaves it all.

Devika said... [Reply]

i like the way u give importance for each and evryword