By Zafar Abbas Zaidi
New Delhi, Aug 18 : This year Muharram is likely to be a low-key affair amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Processions with Tazias are unlikely and several innovative self-regulation strategies are planned to limit the gathering of people inside the Imambaras to 50. Several Imambaras have planned entry on a ‘first-come-first’ basis while others will limit the number of entry tokens for the devout to 50.
An Imambara is a place or a building with a hall where people assemble for “Majlis” (mourning congregation) for Imam Hussain and the martyrs of Karbala.
“We have to observe Muharram but with self-regulations this year. We have planned to restrict the entry inside the Imambaras to not more than 50 people. Volunteers would do the head count and entry would be stopped once the number is reached. This would strictly be on a “first-come-first’ basis to avoid any overcrowding,” said Syed Mohd. Taqi Rizvi, member Management Committee of Babul-Ilm Imambara in Jamia Nagar, New Delhi.
To avoid the same set of people attending the mourning congregation daily, chances would be given to new attendees each day till the 10th day of Muharram that is ‘Ashura’. People have also been advised to wear masks before entering the Imambaras.
It is also planned that children below 10 years and senior citizens above 60 years would not be allowed to attend the majlis. The committee is also taking steps to ensure the maximum number of people can watch majlis online.
“We have made provisions for online majlis on YouTube and other social media platforms like Facebook to ensure people are not left out and listen and watch online majlis and ‘matam’ virtually,” said Syed Iradat Hussain Rizvi.
Muharram starts on August 20 and will continue for 10 days. Mostly the majlis would be held inside houses with limited attendees.
“We would be holding small gatherings and limit the number of attendees to mourn Imam Hussain. We are also connecting with the community online to utilise the virtual media platforms because of the Covid-19 situation this year.” said Fatima, a resident of Jamia Nagar.
Many virtual religious gatherings are already in place on various social media platforms to maintain a balance between traditions and social distancing because of the pandemic.