Ashura differs from one Indian city to another , but a silken thread that binds each city is Imam Hussain, every city has its cultural ethnicity woven into the Azadari of Hussain, but the cry of Ya Hussain remains the same.
The tears that drop like raindrops from Shia eyes are universally the same, a drop of a tear a drop of blood shed for Imam Hussin is the same, this is what seamlessly binds the Shia in India, the Shia in Pakistan, the Shia in Iraq, or the Shia in Iran or Azaibaijan, including the migrant Shias in America , Canada Australia Europe or Gulf or even in Japan.
This is the motivation of Moharam called Maksade Hussain.
I am unfortunate I discovered congregational Shia Islam much late in life about 6 years back, I try to shoot some different city , but if I am short of finance I stay back shoot Moharam in Mumbai.People love to celebrate Moharam in their own home towns, that is why in Mumbai, all the Shias from various cities they hail from, leave for their hometowns.
This is called catching up with the folks where they grew up.
I have no such binding, I belong to no anjuman, fiercely independant a creature of wavering moods I am lead by my nose and my bare feet to strange places where I know not a single soul, but somehow miraculously I meet people there become friends a new bond is formed..this is the healing aspect of Islam, it brings your closer to your roots of bondship.
Mumbai Ashura in the morning is a very Iranian tradtional passion play.The entire events stage managed Shimr, drums, Yazidi forces, all congregating at Imambada Amin.Fellow Shias avoid this event as the human playing the role of Imam Hussain is something very hard to digest, I know what the traditional Sikhs felt when Baba Rahim of Sacha Sauda dressed himself up as Sant Guru Gobind Singh.
This is blashphemy.But for the Iranians of Mumbai it is life as usual.
The other aspect that got on my liberal goat is guys dressed with horrendous mask , like Hijabs portraying the Bibis of the House of Hussain, taking little kids to bless them in the Cradle of Ali Asghar the Imams 6 month child who was shot by the arrow of Harmulla, ..one of these pictures was used derogatorily in Times of India, in an article on Hand Free Matam by journalist Mohamed Wajihuddin.
Any way I try to be less critical or vocal, I have shot the event here , after the Juloos ends in the quadrangle, cramped for space, women men children.
The drums beat and the scourgings start, I honestly think, the scourgings and the forehead cutting and the sword Matam display is so fiercely bloody , people watching go into a faint..you cannot shoot this from close, its that bad, backs open up, pieces of human mutton chunks splattering the wallls, danger of being hit all around.
I shot all this on negs have no time or the funds to get it scanned, I shot slides and black and whites too, the first yeat I shot 40 rolls, sitting on a gate of Imambada Amin , yes I unlearnt photography , by trial error shooting Moharam.
Atfer the bloody matam gets over the crowds mover over to Fotowat or to Moghul Masjid to break the fast or Faqqa with Iranian Khichda.. that was kept on a simmering fire all night.
Later in the evening after 5 pm,from Yaqqub Gully close to Chor Bazar, the Hindustani Shias take out their Juloos, that crawls, with Anjumams from all over Mumbai, Bangalore, Hallor, Jaunpur, moving to end at Shia cemetery or Rehmatabad, on the roads more blood chilling scenes, sabils offering water, taburakkat, women kids, near the Dongri circle the Shiv Senas , other Hindus chip in to offer tea cold drinks, here standing atop a car eminent Shia scholar Hamid Jaffery gives a discourse on the contribution of Imam Hussains sacrifice to Humanity, people listen attentively,, after this at Rehmatabad it is the much awaited Majlis Shame e Gariba, after the Majlis , Rehmatabad is a pond of blood, there is a childrens juloos, alams , Zuljana, yes this is in a nutshell Ashura in Mumbai..I think I could say it more cogently with my pictures…
The pictures are of Lucknow Ashura, as this is my continuing subject at the moment.. but you can see Ashura in Mumbai at my home site ,
or at Shah ast Hussain