Friday, December 25, 2009

The birth of Christ and Yaum-e-Ashura

Today is Christmas throughout the world. People know 25th Dec as the day Jesus (Isaa Alaihissalaam) was born. But how many of us know that according to the Islamic calender, Prophet Isaa was born on the 10th day of Muharram ? That's on Ashura day. Ashura is not only the day Isaa A S was born but also the same day when he was taken up to the heavens.

Many of us just associate Ashura (the 10th of Muharram) with only the martyrdom of Hazrat Hussain (grandson of Prophet Muhammad S A S). But what many Muslims also do not know is that the importance of Ashura extends even beyond that. This day has always been an important day in the history of the world and religion.

On this day Prophet Hazrat Adam A S was created. And also Prophet Ibrahim A S (Abraham) born on this day. The ark of Prophet Nooh A S (Noah) halted at mountain Judi on the 10th day of Muharram. The heavens, earth, sun, moon, stars and paradise were also created on Ashura. Apart from this, many more religious events have taken place on this day.

Muharram is the 1st month of the Islamic calender. From the 1st to 10th day the most important battle of 'Karbala' was fought against 'Yazeed', a cruel king who believed himself to be God. This battle ended with Ashura, where Hazrat Hussain was martyred. Soonafter, Yazeed was also defeated and people were saved from the clutches of a cruel and evil king. From 1st to 10th, many muslims remember the martydom of Hazrat Hussain and the troubles the family of our beloved prophet went through in the battle of Karbala when they were denied food and water. That is why in many places you will find the 'Sabeel' installed to serve water to travellers so that no one goes thirsty. Sabeel comes from the arabic word meaning 'spring'. The sherbet many make on the last day is also symbolic of water. Over the period of time, the plain sweet sherbet has been modified to milk sherbet with crushed dry fruits thrown it for flavour. Some kids in Muslim mohallahs collect money to make huge tanks of sweet sherbet, mixing the sugar n water concoction for hours through the previous night (till wee hours of morning) before the colour, flavours and garnishings are thrown in. It is then distributed to all. Though there are certain sections of Muslims who raise eyebrows over the practice. But here I'd like to say that though Hazrat Hussain A S was martyred, it showed many Muslims the right path and they chose not to follow Yazeed. So in a way it was also a kind of victory too.

Also, we see many Muslim households make 'kichda' during Muharram and many (including some Muslims) wonder why! What is 'kichda'? Kichda is a mixture of wheat, rice, dals/ pulses, meat thrown together and cooked for hours till it is soft. It is made in various ways. This is also symbolic practice because it is believed that during the battle of Karbala, when they was nothing much left to eat, the leftovers of all grains and food available with the people were mixed and cooked. All these are ways of rememberance. Of course, no way of remembrance can be better than prayer and fasting (which is advised for two days on 9th and 10th day or on 10th and 11th day). Though Sunnis end their sad remembrance of the battle with Ashura (10th day of Muharram), the Shias continue to mourn throughout the entire month of Muharram. And some extend it for another additional ten days.

Ashura is on Monday (28th Dec). It is a day of great significance. My Dad used to always say - 'One should not work on the day of Muharram'. Thankfully, Govt has declared the holiday at the last moment, else I would have taken a day off, anyways!

Also refer to my earlier article dated 20th Jan 2008 :

2nd pic courtesy :

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hurry more, Care Less!

In Mumbai running, rushing and pushing seems to be the order of the day. Here everyone seems to be running, sometimes making us wonder- ‘what for?’ Everyone tries to show that he/ she is more in a hurry than the others, often giving a cold stare to people who appear to be at a slower pace or at leisure. Most of us rush in or out as soon as the train or bus stops, seldom bothered about hurting or pushing others while doing so. Some even pinch, nudge and push others to get into a crowded train. While some others try to get alongwith 2-3 others even when we know that only one can pass at a time through the space available.

Just imagine what all this would look like if the same is applied to an aeroplane? Wouldn’t the same behaviour make you appear rowdy and indisciplined? Ha !

On my recent trip to Srinagar and back via Delhi with Mom and bro-in-law, we had a taste of Mumbaikars’ ‘hurry more, care less’ attitude. We had booked round trip for three through Spice Jet.

On our travel to Delhi to Jammu to Srinagar, we saw that most of the passengers (from Mumbai to Delhi, from Delhi to Jammu and even passengers from Jammu) had tucked all their heavy and big baggages in Luggage, while they traveled lite with small baggage in the ‘cabin luggage’. Everyone had ample space in their respective luggage area over their seats to keep their hand baggage. The same was also seen in our return journey from Srinagar to Delhi.

Now comes the Delhi to Mumbai part, where mostly people from Mumbai were headed. In most flights, you coolly get in and walk towards your allotted seat. But in the Delhi-Mumbai flight, there was chaos as soon as we got in. Majority of the people were carrying heavy luggage as ‘hand baggage’, (probably to avoid waiting for 15-30 mins extra claiming the luggage back on the conveyor belt). Because of this, people were blocking the aisle figuring where to keep their baggage as they had used their allotted space and were looking for empty space over other passengers’ seats. And the cabin crew was also pushing (or rather, stashing) people’s luggage in available empty spaces. Due to this, we had to wait in the aisle and then slowly find our way to our seats, only to find our luggage area occupied. Thankfully, we were carrying only our purses in hand and all other baggage in ‘Luggage’ for our as well as others convenience.

Here, the people were acting smart and ‘know all’ since we were from Mumbai, after all! People continued to talk on their mobiles even when mobiles were asked to be switched off. One person was listening to FM on his mobile and when the Air Hostess asked him to switch it off he continued to argue that he was only listening to songs! Finally she had to tell him apart from mobile airwaves interfering with other signals, also if an emergency announcement was made, he would not be able to hear it. Finally the passenger was convinced.

Now comes the main part. This was a evening flight from Delhi (6.30 pm to 8.40 pm) on 9th Dec 2009 and most flights were delayed or cancelled due to cold or fog. But thankfully the SpiceJet flight was delayed only by 15 mins. Though the delay was covered in time, the aircraft didn’t get signal to land in Mumbai and was circling. Finally it landed at 9.10 pm. As soon as the plane slowed down a bit and tho' neither the seat belt indicators were off nor the cabin lights were switched on, Mumbaikars got into the act they have been used to over a period of time. Almost everyone was out of their seats, and trying to pull their luggage from overhead units. Since everyone’s luggage was here and there (also over other’s seats), there was a chaos again. One person who looked like an educated and decent person at least by face, was all over our overhead baggage unit and pulling out his stuff. In the rush, he dropped a heavy ‘small laptop’ (notebook) on my bro-in-laws head, hurting him badly. My Mom was very angry. She shouted at him in Hindi about being ‘Padey likhe unpadh’ (educated illiterates). And the cheek had the guts to reply back that at least no one had broken their head or lost a life. My Mom lost her cool and mumbled a few more words at him before reminding him that this was neither a train or bus, but an aeroplane. As usual everyone acted dumb and looked away as if they didn’t care (in typical Mumbai style) nor didn’t the cabin crew intervened. Mom wondered aloud what the people in charge were doing (hinting at the cabin crew). Suddenly two air hostesses came running putting all people back in their places and telling them to put their seat belts on as the aircraft had not fully stopped. It had just slowed down to take a turn and waiting for the runway to clear !

What was the rush for? Where would one want to rush at 9.10 pm (unless unofficially!) apart from home? The train rush-hour was over, the traffic jams would be clear by then. Neither had the aircraft stopped, nor the exit doors opened. So you could not even rush out! Even the cabin crew was not experienced enough to control the chaos nor could they alert everyone in time to be relaxed and seated till the right time. Moreover, why are big suitcases being allowed inside the aircraft as ‘cabin baggage’ causing a discomfort to those wanted to travel in peace? This happened on Flight no. 119

Is this what we Mumbaikars are all about?- ‘Hurry more, care less!’ Or do we think we're too smart to be bound by rules or care for anything?