12.02.2011| I ventured Old Delhi by myself. It was after I shopped for spices and nuts to bring home, that I finally walked to Jama Masjid. I sought for direction from the officer standing near the Fatehpuri Mosque and upon his advice, I hailed a cycle rickshaw to Jama Masjid area. The Old Delhi main road was crowded and I could not help but to notice armed police officers guarding the area. The cycle rickshaw had to stop after 5 minutes because of the road closure. I asked why and received an answer in Hindi, and I dared not ask further. Thereon, I started to walk.
Looking absolute lost, I followed the flow of crowd, most of them clad in black dresses and shirts as if they were going for a funeral. To be honest, I thought someone had passed away. I took as many shots as I could for whatever that was happening in New Delhi that day, I could google it afterwards. A man with a hailer chanting mixture of Indian and Arabic words. Young men were striking their chest so hardly I wondered if it caused pain to the chest. The crowd ranged from children to old men. There was a van who distributed packaged food for the street people.
Later I saw a bunting – Hussaini Mission. A man realizing I was documenting the ceremony marched forward and started to explain the basis of the whole thing in thick Indian accent. He wanted me to go back to my home country and disseminate about the event.
It was a procession during Festival of Muharram for Shias. The event commemorates the Battle of Karbala when Imam Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and a shia imam was killed by the forces of the second Umayad caliph Yazid I. The assination of Hussain took place on the tenth day of Muharram and known as Ashura day. This is why Islam is divided into Shias and Sunnis.
In Malaysia, we do not commemorate Ashurah day like the Shias do. The whole event I witnessed that day was a remarkable experience. But frankly, I was worried as hell of my safety. I was pushed right, left and centre.
The area became even more crowded as time passed. I did not even visit the Jama Masjid as by that time, they were about to finish Friday prayer. There were atleast 10,000 people performing Friday prayer.
Ashura day – though I doubt it was really Ashura day happening in February 2011, I can now say I sort of have seen how Shias celebrate Ashura day.
This was one of the highlights during the trip.