Muharram is one of the most significant festivals celebrated by the Muslim community in India as it marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year. It is the first month of the Islamic calendar and second holiest of the four sacred months in a year in Islam, the first being Ramadan. Muharram celebrations start after the sighting of the new moon on Islamic calendar’s last day and continue for ten days. The 10th day of Muharram, called the Day of Ashura, is of most significance for different Muslim factions for various reasons. In 2019, the 10th day of Muharram will fall on Tuesday, 10th September.
Of all the days, the Day of Ashura i.e. the 10th day of Muharram is considered most important by Shia and Sunni Muslims. Shia Muslims observe it as a day of mourning to commemorate the death of the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, Hussayn Ibn Ali. According to legends, Imam Hussayn once raised objection to the legitimacy of caliph Yazid and revolted against him. This led to the battle of Karbala, and the beheading of the revolutionary leader and imprisonment of his family, on the day of Ashura in 680 AD. Sunni Muslims believe that the religious leader Moses led Israel through the Red Sea and got victory over Egyptian Pharaoh and his army of war chariots on the 10th day of Muharram. There is another belief that Adam and Eve were created by God on the 10th day of this holy month.
Muharram Celebrations across India
Both Shia and Sunni Muslims celebrate Muharram; however, they do not observe the occasion in the same manner. For Shias, it is a day of observance and not joy, and thus, they are in mourning for the 10-day period. They dress in black, attend special prayer meetings at mosques and even refrain from listening to music or attending events like weddings. On the 10th day, street processions take place in which they walk barefoot, chanting and whipping their chests until it draws blood to commemorate the sufferings of Imam Hussayn. Sunnis observe this day with fasting from the first to the 10th or 11th day of the month. This is voluntary, and the ones who fast are believed to be rewarded by Allah.
Best Places to Observe Muharram in India
- Jammu & Kashmir
- New Delhi
- Uttar Pradesh