Hyderabad may miss the historic Bibi-ka-Alam procession this Muharram. Chances of the juloos being taken out on the 10th of Muharram (August 30) have dimmed with the High Court dismissing a writ petition on Wednesday seeking permission.

The Bibi-ka-Alam procession has a long tradition stretched over 400 years. Right from the Quli Qutb Shahi days the city is witness to the Shia community taking out the Bibi-ka-Alam on a caparisoned elephant every year to mark the ‘Youm-e-Ashoora’. This year on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Telangana Government has denied permission to the procession while issuing guidelines to be followed during observation of the ‘Majlis’ in Ashoorkhanas. At a recent meeting held with the Shia leaders, the Minority Welfare Minister, Koppula Eshwar, wanted the Bibi-ka-Alam to be carried in a vehicle instead of the traditional elephant as it attracts huge gatherings.

Not agreeing with his views, M/s Fatima Seva Dal Society filed a writ petition in the High Court seeking permission for taking out the procession on an elephant while maintaining the social distancing norms. However, the Court dismissed the petition today without granting any relief. Instead it wanted the petitioners to follow the guidelines issued by the government. This has put a question mark on the Bibi-ka-Alam procession. “We will discuss the matter and see what can be done”, remarked Hasanuddin Aijaz, Mujawar, Bibi-ka-Alawa.

During the last four centuries the annual Muharram procession was never missed. Even when the city was under curfew the procession was allowed. “Government ought to permit the juloos as it has a long tradition. Moreover, not just shias but people belonging to different faiths also participate in it”, said Syed Hamed Hussain Jaffery, President, Telangana Shia Youth Conference.

The Bibi-ka-Alam procession, which marks the culmination of mourning by the Shia community, attracts people cutting across religion and caste. To the cries of ‘Ya Hussain’, the procession starts from Bibi ka Alawa in Dabeerpura and winds its way to the Masjide Ilahi at Chadarghat. Devotees flock the procession route and offer ‘dhatti’ to the Alam. But this time round the pandemic appears to have halted the procession in its tracks.

J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. Currently he is working on his third book - Poets and Writers of Deccan.

Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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