This Islamic festival is a ten day long mourning period, commemorating the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammed in the Karbala battle. Hyderabad in engulfed with grief, as loudspeakers blare marsiye (elegies) and nohay (sorrowful poems) from countless ashurkhanas, centres where Shia Muslims gather to mourn.
For nine days, Shia’s grieve the martyr who perished 14 centuries ago, retelling stories of the battle and the refusal of the patriot and his disciples to concede to dictators. The tenth day sees the climax – a ‘Bibi ka Alam’ procession takes to the streets with an Alam seated majestically on elephant back. The Muharram procession of Hyderabad attracts people (of all religions) not only from Andhra Pradesh, but also from rest of India.