Every year as Muharram approaches, Calcutta (Kolkata) radio veteran Mir Afsar Ali must remind his non-Muslim listeners not to wish their Muslim friends a “happy Muharram” because it is not a happy occasion. For most non-Muslims in India, Islamic rituals and practices in general, and Muharram, in particular, remains a complete mystery. People’s reaction to Muharram commemorations is tinged with fear. So this year, I set out to experience and document Muharram commemorations in my hometown, Calcutta (Kolkata).
|The gathering at Gol Kothi, listening to the story of Karbala|
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS EXTREMELY GRAPHIC IMAGES. DISCRETION IS ADVISED. DO NOT PROCEED BEYOND THIS POINT IF THE SIGHT OF BLOOD DISTURBS YOU.