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Monday, December 28, 2009

Ashoora celebrated with traditional solemnity across J&K
Thousands participate in over 50 Zuljanah processions in Valley

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Dec 28: Solemn finale of the Moharram mourning, Ashoora, was celebrated today as thousands of Shia Muslim devotees paid tributes to Prophet Mohammad’s grandson, Hazrat Imam Hussain, and other martyrs of Karbala with their participation in over 50 Zuljanah and Alam processions across Kashmir valley. Braving apprehensions of hostile situation and an equally disturbing weather forecast, thick flocks of mourners performed Matam (a typical mourning) and dispersed only after the rallies culminated into Majalis-e-Sham-e-Garibaan at different Imambargahs late in the evening.

Even as the authorities had, as usual since 1989, denied permission to the major Zuljanah procession in this capital city on ‘security grounds’, nearly 50 processions of the Karbala mourners were taken out peacefully in Srinagar and other Shia population localities across Kashmir valley on occasion of Ashoora today. Notwithstanding the forecast of rain and snow by Department of Meteorology on Dec 28th and 29th , as also security-related apprehensions of Police and intelligence agencies, it remained a completely sunny but cold winter day and no untoward incident took place anywhere in the state.

Thin groups of people, dominated by pro-Azadi activists, made routine attempts of defying the prohibitory orders in Civil Lines for half-an-hour in the forenoon but Police foiled their attempts to make any big show. Amid reciting of Nowha and slogan shouting, coupled with baton charge and tearsmoke by Police, over a dozen of the defiant activists were taken into custody and detained for the day at a local Police station.

Valley’s largest attended Zuljanah and Alam procession was taken out as per a tradition from Alipora Botakadal in Lalbazar area at 1100 hours which passed peacefully through its traditional route of Madeen Sahab, Mohalla Syed Afzal, Alamgari Bazar, Baba Mazar and Ghasiyar Chowk Road and finally culminated into a Majlis-e-Sham-e-Gariban at the historic Imambara of Zadibal. Prominent Shia cleric-politician and President of J&K Shia Association, Maulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, led the procession of nearly 100,000 mourners.

Maulvi Iftikhar and JKLF Chairman, Yasin Malik, addressed the congregation of the Karbala mourners at Imambara Zadibal.

In the background of tight security arrangements, Divisional Commissioner, Mrs Naseem Lankar, IGP Kashmir, Farooq Ahmed, DC Srinagar, Meraj Ahmed Kakroo, SSP Srinagar Javed Riyaz Bedar, and other senior officials personally escorted the procession. Different government departments and NGOs had installed Sabeels and relief centers all through the route as the volunteers offered juices, fruit and tea to the participants.

While reciting Nowha and Marthiya in the praise and memory of the martyrs of Karbala, mourners performed Matam with self-flagellation. Particulars groups of the youth spilled their own blood on the streets while striking on their heads and shoulders with sharp-edged blades. Most of the mourners were bare-footed and in black outfits, braving the severe winter chill. This huge procession, which was 100,000-strong according to an official press release, ended at Imambara Zadibal at around midnight.

In Srinagar district, other Ashoora processions were taken out at Hassanabad, Harwan, Nishat, and Balhama. Reports said that 1,000 to 4,000 mourners participated in these processions.

Budgam-based Anjuman-e-Sharayee Shi’aan organized a massive Zuljanah procession which came out from Imambara Mirgund and after walking on its traditional 3 Km route ended at Budgam late in the evening. Officials put the number of participants as 15,000. Anjuman chief and senior Hurriyat leader, Aga Syed Hassan, as also his son-in-law and Ministrer in Omar Abdullah’s Cabinet, Aga Syed Ruhullah, participated in the procession. Parallel faction of the Anjuman, headed by Aga Syed Mohammad Fazallullah and his brother, former Ministrer Aga Mehmood, participated in relatively smaller Zuljanah processions at Bemina and Ichhigam in Budgam district.

Other major processions of the day were taken out in Budgam district at Iskandarpora, Atina, Hayatporan and Magam. Largely attended Magam procession ended at Imambara Goom Ahmedpora where Maluvi Iftikhar Ansari addressed the congregation and explained the philosophy of the martyrdom of Karbala to the mourners.

Reports pouring in from different district headquarters said that well-attended Zuljanah and Alam processions were also taken out at Chhatergul and Sallar in Anantnag, Shahu Shitsan Devsar in Kulgam, Gangoo, Wakharwan and Puner Jagir in Pulwama, Dab Wakora in Ganderbal, Anderkoot in Bandipore, several villages in Pattan area of Baramulla besides Kamalkot (Uri) in the same district.

Reports from Ladakh said that massive Zuljanah and Alam processions were taken out in Leh and several other villages in the district. According to these reports, rival Shia organizations, Islamia School and Imam Khomeini Trust carried out two major Ashoora processions in Kargil.


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