Is Muharram/Ashura a Public Holiday?
Muharram/Ashura is a public holiday for the general population of India. This means that the majority of the schools, academic institutions, universities, colleges and tuition centres remain closed on this day. Also, numerous government and private sector offices, post offices and banks also remain closed or operate during restricted hours.
However, Islamic institutions, organizations and businesses remain completely closed on this particular day. People are seen visiting religious establishments, offering their prayers, carrying out prayer meets and parades and wishes for the greater good. This is why some congestion can be witnessed on the roads. Hence, consult the public transport office and authorities before heading ahead. However, such activities can be majorly seen in Muslim-dominated areas.
Muharram History & Associated Legends
Muharram history holds great significance in Islamic religious scriptures and marks the observance of this occasion. Sunni and Shia Muslims in India and worldwide observe the month of Muharram and the tenth day of Ashura as the period of mourning.
As per the mythological legend, on the tenth day of Muharram, i.e. Ashura during the 61st year as per the Islamic Calendar, a fierce but tragic battle of Karbala took place. The battle was fought between two parties, that include a small group of relatives and supporters of Imam Hussain, Prophet Muhammed’s grandson and Yazid ibn Mu’awiya ibn Abi Sufyan, commonly as Yazid I, the Umayyad caliphate’s second caliph and his military forces.
Since the group fighting from Imam Hussein’s side consisted of women, children and relatives, all of them were captured by the heavily-armed forces of Yazid I and deprived of water for three consecutive days. Adding on to it, those cruel soldiers took the women as captives and brutally killed Hussain and his son, who was only six years old at that time.
Therefore, to commemorate the sacrifices of Imam Hussain and his family, relatives and supporters, people observe a mourning on the day of Muharram and Ashura. Since this mythological legend holds high emotional value, people mourn for the innocent lives lost and consider it a Haram to perform any hateful or sinful act during this period.
Ashura in India
Ashura or Yawm Ashura falls on the tenth day during the month of Muharram. This day is regarded as a holy day of mourning by Shia Muslims and a non-obligatory day of fasting for Sunni Muslims and marks the time when the grandson of the mighty Prophet Mohammed Husayn ibn Ali or Imam Hussain was martyred by his opponents in the Battle of Karbala.
For Sunni Muslims, the day of Ashura commemorates the day when the Israelites and Moses were saved by God from the wrath of the Pharaoh by departing the Sea. It is believed that Allah saved the Children of Israel from the Pharaoh of Egypt and Prophet Musa or Moses, out of gratitude towards Allah, too observed a fast on this day. When Prophet Muhammed got to know about all this from the Jews, he too marked a two-day fasting observance on this occasion.
Muharram For The General Public
The first month in the Islamic Calendar is known as Muharram. During this period, Muslims fast during the day on either the ninth and tenth day (9th Muharram and 10th Muharram) or tenth and eleventh day (10th Muharram and 11th Muharram) during the month. Special prayer meets in the mosques or at homes can be conducted and parades and public processions can also be carried out on this occasion. However, not all Muslim groups observe this religious occasion in a similar pattern.
The month of Muharram/Ashura is marked as a holy event, especially for Shia Muslims. A period of mourning begins, during which Shi Muslims mourn for the innocent lives lost in the Battle of Karbala. Among them was Imam Hussain, the son of Hazrat Ali and grandson of Prophet Muhammed. Hence, this day is said to be sorrowful, during which carrying out any joyous activity is forbidden. People pray in abundance and mourn throughout the period.
The mourning period begins from the first day till the tenth day in the month of Muharram. Muslims are seen wearing black-colored clothes, fasting and observing abstinence from any kind of toxic substance. Public processions and parades can be witnessed, during which participants can be seen beating themselves with chains, using sharp objects such as knives and blades to cut themselves, and wailing and mourning throughout the parade. This can be a barbaric sight for many, hence people can decide to be a part of the procession accordingly. Some break their fast on the day of Ashura, while some after Zawal (afternoon) but only after they have prayed and paid their respects to Imam Hussain.
This painful observance is usually considered as their expression of sorrow and guilt for their ultimate leader, Imam Hussain. On the other hand, several non-violent public processions are also held, where no such act is carried out. But people can be seen crying, shedding tears and wailing on the loss of their divine leader while shouting “Ya Hussain” loudly.
|2019||Tue||10 September||Muharram/Ashura||Gazetted Holiday|
|2020||Sat||29 August||Muharram/Ashura||Gazetted Holiday|
|2021||Thu||19 August||Muharram/Ashura||Gazetted Holiday|
|2022||Tue||9 August||Muharram/Ashura||Gazetted Holiday|
|2023||Sat||29 July||Muharram/Ashura||Gazetted Holiday|
|2024||Wed||17 July||Muharram/Ashura||Gazetted Holiday|
|2025||Thu||26 June||Muharram/Ashura||Gazetted Holiday|
1. Is Muharram/Ashura a bank holiday in India?
Muharram/Ashura is a bank holiday in India
2. Is Muharram a period of celebration?
Muharram is regarded as a month of mourning in Islam. People pay their respects to the fallen and during this period, warfare is a forbidden act.
3. Why is it called Muharram ul Haram?
Since Muharram is known to be one of the sacred months in Islam, it is considered Haram or sinful to carry out a fight or war during this period.
4. Do Shias and Sunnis both mourn during the month of Muharram?
Both Shia and Sunni Muslims both mourn during the period of Muharram, but Sunnis perform this act to a lesser extent.
From the above information, it is evident that the festival of Muharram/Ashura 2023 in India is observed on Saturday, 29 July 2023 with great enthusiasm.
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