Draped In Black Banners, City Braces For Muharram Rituals

KO Photo By Abid Bhat

Srinagar- With the arrival of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, Srinagar city has been wrapped in black banners and hoardings to mourn Imam Hussain (A.S), grandson of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Roads and streets in areas dominated by the members of the Shia community are draped with black flags and banners in remembrance of martyrs of Karbala.

Zuhaib Hussain, a painter calligrapher from Zadibal says he has been passionate about calligraphy from his childhood, but he started to work as a calligrapher after the covid-19 pandemic.

“The calligraphic works on banners start months before the arrival of the month of Muharram. We write poetry in the praise of Imam Hussain (A.S) and messages which are socially relevant” he said.

Imambargahs, which are congregation halls for Shia commemoration ceremonies, are also covered with black sheets and banners.

Ilyas Rizvi, an oral historian and a craft researcher has been documenting Muharram in Kashmir for a decade. He says writing verses in praise of Imam Hussain (A.S) on banners is an important art form in the community.

“This art form in the form of Muharram banners has evolved over the period of time. Specialized artists curate calligraphic designs on the banners”.

“Some decades back only black banners were hoisted, nowadays red and green banners are also hoisted” Ilyas said.

Ilyas says induction of colorful banners is not the only thing that has changed over the years.

“Earlier, banners were mostly written in Urdu but nowadays they are written in English and Persian as well”.

However, in the past few years there have been instances when youth have been electrocuted while hoisting banners.

Pertinently, a 30-year-old youth identified as Wajahat Hussain Dar son of Qasim Ali Dar, a resident of Shamswari, Khanqah Mohalla was electrocuted while hoisting Muharram banners at Baba Demb locality on Friday.

The incident took place when a group of youth were hoisting Muharram banners.

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Syed Mohammad Burhan

Syed Mohammad Burhan has Masters in Mass Communications and works as City Reporter at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @syedmohammad313

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