Several members of the Shia Muslim community, who observed the startof Muharram, said it was difficult to follow the traditions in keeping with today’s urban lifestyle.
Muharram is the first month in the Islamic calendar where Shia Muslims and Dawoodi Bohras fast and mourn for 10 days.
Wearing black, Shiites and Dawoodi Bohras traditionally visit the mosque every morning and participate in the majlis (the saga of verses) that comprises the entire story of the battle of Karbala in which Imam Hussein Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and his followers were killed.
From the seventh to the tenth day, members of the community participate in the juloos-e-aza, a procession where they shed tears and cry and indulge in self-flagellation (zanjeer ka matam) using sharp objects.
Some community members in the city said it is difficult to keep up with the tradition during Muharram. “Though I used to undergo self-flagellation, I haven’t done that for the past 10 years owing to lifestyle changes,” said Amir Rizvi, a Shia Muslim from Andheri.
“I can visit the mosque only on weekends as I am tied up with other chores and office work throughout the week. However, I will take leave from work on Ashura, the tenth day of Muharram, and participate in the rituals,” said Taykhoom Biviji, a Dawoodi Bohra from Santacruz.
However, there are many community members who continue to follow the tradition irrespective of their lifestyle. “I have been undergoing self-flagellation since I was five years old. It is my way of paying tribute to the martyrdom,” said Talib Rizvi, 30, who owns a jewellery store at Worli. “The blood we shed represents our will to sacrifice for Imam Hussien.”