Historic recall of Muharram Procession in Srinagar after 3 Decades
BY AJAZ RASHID
Srinagar, July 29: In a historic decision by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir—granting permission for the Shia Muslim community to hold their annual Muharram procession through the traditional routes of Srinagar on the 8th and 10th day of Muharram. This decision comes after a gap of three decades, making it a momentous occasion for the community. LG Marks a Turning Point in Kashmir History by Joining Muharram Procession
In a momentous event that will be etched in the annals of Kashmir’s history, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha took part in the historic Youm-e-Ashoora Procession in the Bota Kadal area of Srinagar. The sight of the Lieutenant Governor walking shoulder to shoulder with the mourners marked a significant turning point, highlighting the government’s commitment to fostering communal harmony and religious inclusivity.
Accompanied by government officials and community leaders, Lieutenant Governor Sinha’s participation added to the fervor and reverence of the grand procession. His presence further reaffirmed the importance of reviving the sacred tradition after 34 years and restoring the religious and cultural practices that hold profound significance for the Kashmiri people.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha paid tributes to Imam Hussain (AS) while offering his unwavering support to the mourning community at Bota Kadal, Srinagar.
Displaying humility and respect, LG personally distributed refreshments among the mourners, symbolizing unity and compassion. Engaging wholeheartedly, he joined the Zuljiinah procession, standing in unity with the Shia community.
The Shia community lauded the arrangements and expressed heartfelt appreciation for the Lieutenant Governor’s genuine outreach, emphasizing the significance of fostering an environment of inclusivity and understanding.
The mourners, overjoyed by the Lieutenant Governor’s gesture, expressed their gratitude and hope for a more inclusive and united future. Asif Ali, a mourner from Srinagar, spoke, “For the first time, our Lieutenant Governor has joined this sacred procession, and it is a moment that fills our hearts with immense pride and joy. This act of unity and respect for our religious traditions marks a turning point in the history of Kashmir, and we are grateful for the support and encouragement.”
Amidst the grandeur of the Muharram procession, the atmosphere resonated with unity, hope, and a renewed commitment to preserving the rich cultural heritage that binds the people of Kashmir together. The historical significance of Lieutenant Governor Sinha’s involvement in the procession symbolized a new era of understanding and cooperation, where religious freedom is embraced and respected.
As the mourners continued their journey of faith, Lieutenant Governor Sinha’s participation served as a reminder of the power of constructive dialogue and the importance of embracing diversity. It underscored the government’s dedication to fostering an environment of peace and coexistence, where the traditions and rights of all communities are safeguarded.
The successful revival of the Muharram processions, with the active involvement of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, marked a turning point in the history of Kashmir. The legacy of this historic event will endure as a beacon of hope, inspiring generations to cherish their cultural heritage, embrace religious freedom, and work towards a harmonious future.
“For the first time in my life, I am seeing the Muharram procession through these streets. It is a deeply emotional moment for all of us; the excitement and gratitude among mourners was clear as they prepared to participate in the procession they had long yearned for”, remarked Fatima, a local resident.
Another procession participant, Younis Hussain says “I couldn’t sleep a wink overnight, overwhelmed with excitement, when the government announced the revival of the 8th Muharram procession”.
Witnessing this historic event has been a lifelong dream for me and many others. We grew up hearing enchanting stories about this sacred tradition from our elders. Today, as a participant in the procession, my heart brims with joy, knowing that we are now part of a timeless legacy, he added.
The 10th of Muharram, also known as Ashura, holds a special significance for Shia Muslims. It commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS), the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), at the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD. The tradition of holding processions on this day has deep roots in the city’s history, dating back many centuries.
However, due to various security concerns and restrictions, the procession had been suspended from its traditional routes for the past thirty years. During this period, the Shia community had held smaller gatherings and processions in designated areas, but the absence of the grand procession left a void in their religious and cultural practices.
“For thirty long years, our grand Muharram procession remained suspended, leaving a void in our religious and cultural practices. Today, amidst prevailing peace and unity, we revive this historic journey of faith with renewed hope and determination, cherishing our traditions and embracing the spirit of coexistence”, Agha Shahi a mourner said.
The administration of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha took a significant step to uphold religious freedom and promote communal harmony in the region. Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Vijay Kumar Bidhuri, made the official announcement, stating, “Under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, the government has decided to allow the Muharram procession to be conducted from its traditional routes in Srinagar on the 8th and 10th day of Muharram. The procession will take place tomorrow from 6 am to 8 am. All necessary security arrangements have been put in place to ensure the safety of the participants and the general public.”
The decision has been met with widespread appreciation from members of the Shia community and others who recognize the importance of religious freedom and the preservation of cultural traditions.
“We warmly embrace this significant and historic decision, as we’ve faced decades of struggles to conduct processions along these traditional routes. The administration’s unnecessary excuses have always hindered us. Today, we are proud to witness a procession free of sectarian clashes, with smooth traffic and disciplined mourners” Shabir Hussain a participant stated.
This momentous decision is a testament to our community’s peaceful and disciplined nature, showcasing our ability to lead processions with grace, he added.
“In the past, earlier governments used tactics to prevent mourners from holding processions on 8th and 10th Muharram, claiming unfavorable conditions. It’s clear that this was merely a means to prohibit us” another mourner Hadi said.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s administration has demonstrated a commitment to fostering communal harmony and inclusivity in the region. The decision to allow the Muharram procession signifies a willingness to respect and accommodate the religious sentiments of various communities.
Local community leaders have also expressed their joy and gratitude for the decision. A prominent religious leader, Maulana Masroor Ahmad Abbas, stated, “This is a moment of celebration for all of us. It shows that the government is sensitive to the needs of diverse religious communities and values their traditions.”
“The situation has improved–our Sunni brethren have impressively arranged necessities for mourners, including water, food, and more” Abbas said.
In anticipation of the historic event, the Shia community has made extensive preparations. Decorations adorn the procession route, and arrangements have been made for the distribution of food and water to the participants.
“Foolproof Security cover for Ashoora procession is in place, ensuring the smooth conduct of the procession and maintaining law and order. The authorities have urged all participants to adhere to the guidelines and cooperate with the security personnel to ensure a peaceful event”, ADGP Kashmir said.
The procession that started from bota Kadal area will culminate at ImamBara Zadibal, Srinagar, he added.