Thousands of barefoot Shiite devotees of all ages, draped mostly in black, beat their chests with the hand in matam, a show of grief, and recited sad verses from the history of battle of Karbala, as city Muslims, particularly Shias, observed Ashura, the tenth day of Muharram. Other groups of shirtless men struck their body repeatedly with a zanjeer (knives and small swords grouped) and blood oozed out.
Ashura, as always, was observed to mourn the martyrdom of grandson of the prophet Muhammad, in Karbala, on Sunday, in different parts of the city and its suburbs.
Devotees and onlookers flocked to Dongri, the centre of Muharram activities since ages, as Muslims took out processions, artistically depicting various scenes from Karbala.
They followed the alam, the flag that is believed to represent the army of the Imam, decorated with a flower with religious inscriptions written on it.
“I have been coming here (to Dongri) since many years,” said Mohammed Fazal, a Shiite from Andheri, who had come with his family of five. “It’s amazing to see the passion of so many devotees wanting to share the grief of the difficult times faced by Imam Husain and his family and friends.”
The procession moved a distance of about 3 km from Mughal Masjid in Dongri in the afternoon and ended at Nariyalwadi on Reay Road with the recitation of sham-e-gariba late in the evening.
More then 1,000 sabeels erected along the route in the area served water, sherbet and refreshments to the mourners. Non-muslims, too, were seen distributing water and sherbets. “The way people observe this day is really remarkable,” said Sanjay Kumar, a restaurateur from Mumbai Central.
“Even though the procession has now started taking place in various suburbs, the number of people taking part has been increasing every year,” said Abulfazl Fahimi (62), founding member of the sabeel-e-hussaine, which stood near JJ Hospital.
More then 5,000 volunteers helped those injured during the matam and ambulance services by a couple of hospitals roamed with their wailing sirens. Security was visible. “We have done everything from our side to ensure that Muharrum passes peacefully,” said Senior Inspector A.A. Beg.