Also known as Ashura, Muharram is the first month in the Islamic calendar, thus, it marks the beginning of the Islamic year. It is a gazetted holiday in India, with schools and colleges closed on the day it is observed and in some cases, office workers too get a holiday. Most Muslims observe a fast on the ninth and tenth day of Muharram or tenth or eleventh day. Ideally, they also attend some special prayer meetings at private homes as well as mosques. There’s a difference in how Muharram is observed by different segments of Muslims in the society. Some Muslims treat it as the month of mourning as they commemorate the Battle of Karbala, while others choose to be a part of parades as well as marches, which are often known to create a hindrance in the traffic situation on roads, etc.
Both Shia and Sunni Muslims observe the tenth day of Muharram globally, including India, and majority fasts during the daylight hours of this tenth day of Muharram. As per Islamic beliefs, it was on the ninth, tenth, or eleventh day of Muharram that Prophet Muhammad’s grandson: Imman Hussain died in the carnage in Kerbala in 680 CE. And from there originated this month of mourney called Muharram. And on another hand, it is also believed by many that it was on the tenth day of Muharram that Adam and Eve were created by God.
Being a gazetted holiday, banks, government offices, schools, colleges are fully closed on Muharram. Shops and businesses, with Islamic owners too are shut. Public transportation is often a difficult aspect on this day, and road traffic can get quite extreme due to heavy crowds marching forth in parades, especially in predominant Muslim areas.
This year, Muharram’s mourning will be observed on the 20th of September, 2017.
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