Archive for mourning

Shraaddha

Posted in In Search of Lost Time with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2012 by designldg

“Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not.”
(Epicurus – Greek philosopher, BC 341-270)

This picture was shot at Ahilyabai Ghat in Varanasi (Benaras) where an old man invited a Brahman to perform Shraaddha along the holy waters of the Ganges.
Shraaddha (Death Anniversary) is a Sanskrit word which literally means anything or any act that is performed with all sincerity and faith.
In the Hindu religion, it is the ritual that one performs to pay homage to one’s ancestors, especially to one’s dead parents.

“Rites with offerings known as shaddha are periodically held after a person has died to nourish the soul in the afterlife.
The rites are often performed once a year and feature a feast with a plate of food of food offered to the dead.
Hindu believe the living must feed the dead living in the World of the Fathers.
If the ancestors are properly taken care of they will reward the living with prosperity and sons.
The shaddha is thought to day back to the Aryans.
It is viewed as a meeting between the living and the dead.
The souls of the dead who are nor properly buried are thought live outside the World of Fathers as ghosts that torment their relatives until they are there. custom”
(“World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder, Facts on File Publications, New York)

Conceptually, it is a way for people to express heartfelt gratitude and thanks towards their parents and ancestors, for having helped them to be what they are and praying for their peace.
It also can be thought of as a “day of remembrance”.
It is performed for both the father and mother separately, on the days they became deceased.
It performed on the death anniversary or collectively during the Pitru Paksha or Shraaddha paksha (Fortnight of ancestors), right before Sharad Navaratri in autumn.
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Matam for Devotion

Posted in Islam with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2010 by designldg

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“(Once when he happened to pass by Karbala), Isa (Jesus) sat down and began to weep.

His disciples who were observing him, followed suit and began weeping too, but not comprehending the reason for this behaviour, they asked him: “O’ Spirit of God! What is it that makes you weep?”
Isa (Jesus) said: “Do you know what land this is?”
The disciples replied: “No.”
He then said: “This is the land on which the son of the Prophet Muhammad shall be killed”.
(Ali to Ibn Abbas – Bihar al-Anwar vol. 44,g. 252)

This was shot in Varanasi (Benaras) during the Mourning of Muharram which marks the anniversary of 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.
Those young devotees congregate together in public for ceremonial chest beating (matam) as a display of their devotion to Imam Husayn and in remembrance of his suffering.

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Observance of Muharram

Posted in Islam with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2010 by designldg

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“Every Mu’min, whose eyes shed tears upon the killing of Husayn ibn’ Ali and his companions, such that the tears roll down his cheeks, God shall accommodate him in the elevated rooms of paradise”.

(Ali ibn Hussein – Yanaabe’al Mawaddah, p. 419)

I took this picture last afternoon while Shia devotees were carrying several tazia (coffin) in the narrow streets of Varanasi (Benaras).
No country other than India has the versatile and varied nature of making Tazia.
Its making involves workers from almost all communities and religions and gives employment to the whole household of an artist during Muharram.

Muharram is the first month of Hijri era however the month is better known for the tragedy of Karbala, where Imam Husain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, and his 72 companions were martyred during the battle against evil forces of Yazid, then ruler of Syria who had claimed to be the successor of Islamic spiritual seat.
On the ninth day of Muharram the Tazias, the replicas of Mazar of Imam Husain in Karbala, made of paper and bamboo sticks are kept at Imam Chauks and also on Chabutaras (platforms) of Hindu devotees.
The Muslims as well Hindus keep night vigil.

Varanasi (Benaras) is known as the ancient city for devout Hindus and also as the city of Lord Shiva, it is also known for its unique cultural harmony and coexistence which is often referred to as the “Ganga Jamuni tehzib” (Ganges-Yamuna Culture, गंगा जमुनी तहज़ीब, گنگا جمنی تهزیب).
Joint observance of Muharram is the most conspicuous example of this cultural and religious harmony which is reflected in Hindus participating in Tazia processions and paying homage to Imam Husain, the martyr of Karbala tragedy.

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Processions of Muharram

Posted in Islam with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2010 by designldg

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“Every Mu’min, whose eyes shed tears upon the killing of Husayn ibn’ Ali and his companions, such that the tears roll down his cheeks, God shall accommodate him in the elevated rooms of paradise”.
(Muhammad – Bihar al-Anwar, vol,: 44;pg,:293)

This picture was shot a few hours ago from a railway bridge in Varanasi (Benaras) which allowed me to see the Muharram procession commemorating the mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
Profusely decorated taziyas (bamboo and paper replicas of the martyr’s tomb), embellished with gilt and mica are carried through city streets.
Mourners beat their breasts lamenting and grieving over the murder, accompanied by drum beats.
Wrestlers and dancers enact scenes depicting the battle at Karbala and at each step young men beat their breasts crying “Husain! Husain!” in collective sorrow.

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