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MUHARRAM IN KASHMIR – A brief historical review

Like the advent of Islam in different parts of the world, MUHARRAM and AZADARI (mourning) of the Holy PROPHET’s (s) grandson, HAZRAT IMAM HUSSAIN (as), was started by the Shia Muslims of Kashmir in the beginning of the 14th century A.D.

The large scale congregational gatherings called MAJALISS E HUSSAINI were organised by the renowned Shia Muslim theologian, SYED HUSSAIN QUMI (r) along with his associate scholar and preacher MULLA AALIM ANSARI (r) in the KAMRAJ area of Kashmir.

These scholars who had arrived from Iran during the SHAHMERI era in the year 1440 A.D. and settled at ZAINAGAIR in Syedpora hamlet propagated the AZADARI of HAZRAT IMAM HUSSAIN (s) and it was the due to the efforts of this duo that besides organising MAJLIS E AZA (mourning congregations), they also laid foundations for establishing JULOOS E AZA (mourning processions), that consequently were taken out during ASHRAH MUHARRAM UL HARAAM (First ten days of Muharram) across the Valley.

The mourning processions, MAJAALIS and MARSIYA KHANI (recitation of Elegiac poetry) was first started in Srinagar and other major towns that later on spread to every far flung corner of the Valley.

The numbers of Shia Muslims began to increase gradually as a direct result of the propagation of the AZADARI of Martyrs of KARBALA and other traditions involved with Muharram Ul Haraam.

Consequently, the first IMAMBARA was built in the year 1518 A.D at Zadibal, Srinagar, by KAJI CHAKK, the lion-hearted Prime Minister of Kashmir. Large scale HUSSAINI MAJALIS now began to be organised under the patronage of KAJI CHAKK who was a staunch follower of MIR SHAMSUDDIN IRAQI (r), the famous Shia scholar and preacher who died in Kashmir in the year 1526 A.D and was laid to rest at Zadibal.

During the rule of CHAKK Kings (1555-1585 A.D), the AZADARI of HAZRAT IMAM HUSSAIN (s) and the Martyrs of KARBALA touched new heights under the official patronage of the CHAKK dynasty.




A new form of Kashmiri Elegiac poetry (Kashmiri Classical Marsiya) was introduced by a renowned Kashmiri poet, HUSSAIN MIR and his mentor and patron HAKIM AZEEM during the Sikh rule in Kashmir (1819-1947 A.D.)

The descendants of MULLA AALIM ANSARI started patronising the eminent Kashmiri MARSIYA NIGAR (those who wrote Kashmiri elegiac poetry) and ZAKIR/MARSIYA KHUWAN (reciters of the elegiac poetry in mourning congregations) and this became a turning point in the AZADARI of Martyrs of KARBALA in Kashmir.

The Kashmiri Classical Marsiya, a unique form of elegiac poetry recognized for its unique rhythm and technique across the globe is the popular source of AZADARI amongst the Kashmiri speaking population around the world.




Having a rich 5000yr old cultural heritage, Kashmir, from ancient times, is known as the epitome of ‘UNITY IN DIVERSITY’.

Alongside Muslims regardless of sects in Kashmir, the Kashmiri Brahmins, Buddhists of Ladakh and Kargil districts and minorities like Sikhs have a deep emotional attachment with MUHARRAM and AZADARI of HAZRAT IMAM HUSSAIN (s).

Hence, the entire populus of Jammu and Kashmir play some vital role during the 10 days of ASHRAH MUHARRAM.

The Muslim Ummah is united in paying homage to the Martyrs of KARBALA and special MAJALIS E HUSSAINI are organized in every nook and corner of the Valley at every IMAMBARA, MOSQUE, KHANKAH and Holy Shrine.

In Ladakh/Kargil, even in remote areas, the majority of Buddhist population, including men and women are seen participating in the mourning gatherings and processions during Muharram.

In Jammu, some of the Dogra families are amongst the organizers of TAAZIA (miniature mausoleums) and ZULJINAH JULOOS (representation of Imam’s Hussain’s (as) faithful horse), carrying forward the legacy of their forefathers who also used to participate in these divine activities, centuries ago.

Kashmiri Brahmins (Pandits) have played a vital role in AZADARI from the earliest of times.

CHEREEDAR was an important character in Kashmiri classical Marsiya KHAWANI, who used to read the lines of verses from handwritten Kashmiri Marsiya from BAYAZ as prompter to assist the ZAKIR in the MAJALIS to pronounce Persian words correctly, since the CHEREEDAR was a highly learned and Persian knowing scholar.

Some families of CHEREEDARS exist even today in Kashmir.

The Kashmiri Pandit poets have made an enormous contribution towards modern Kashmiri AZADARI.

Some of the renowned Kashmiri Pandit Poets like Pandit Pitambar Nath Dhar Fani Kashmiri and Prem Nath Shad of Badgam have written scores of NAUHAS and HUSSAINI SALAAM, that are very popular among the devotees of IMAM HUSSAIN (AS).




With the sighting of the new moon marking the beginning of the Islamic HIJRI year 1439 A.H, the devotees of HAZRAT IMAM HUSSAIN (s) and the MARTYRS OF KARBALA are all geared up to commemorate the martyrdom of these men of ALLAH (swt) with utmost dedication and devotion.

The ASHRAH MUHARRAM MAJAALIS alongwith ALAM and TAZIYA processions have started from 2nd Muharram ul Haraam round the clock, in different parts of the State, especially in the valley of Kashmir and Kargil/Leh, wherein large gatherings of mourners can be witnessed paying homage to the grandson of the Blessed Prophet (s).

The comprehensive program of Muharram processions has already been announce by various  Shia Religious Organizations of J&K.

The State level ASHOORA processions to be brought out  as per the announced programme are as below:


  • ASHURA procession on 10th Muharram, ABI GUZAR, Lal Chowk, Srinagar to Zadibal (Officially Still Banned from 1990)


  • ASHURA procession from BOTA KADAL, Srinagar, to IMAMBARA Zadibal, Srinagar on 10th Muharram 1437 A.H.


  • ASHURA procession on 10th Muharram 1439 A.H from Mirgund to IMAMBARA, BUDGAM.


  • ASHURA procession on 10th Muharram in JAMMU City.


  • ASHURA procession on 10th Muharram in KARGIL city and other remote areas.


  • ASHURA procession in LEH/LADAKH and other remote areas.


  • ASHURA procession in POONCH.




  • ASHURA procession in MAGAM, BEERWAH, PATTAN, SUMBAL, BANDIPORA, URI, GANDERBAL and other District/Tehsils, towns and villages across the state of Jammu and Kashmir.


During the 10 days of Muharram 1439. A.H, hundreds of ALAM, TAZIYA and ZULJINAH processions are brought out in every Shi’ite populated area across the geographical zones of KASHMIR, JAMMU and LADAKH.

About Gazi Abbas Shahid

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