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40,000 Bohras from all over world attending their annual congregation in Karachi – Pakistan


KARACHI: Only a day earlier than the Muharram moon was formally sighted in Pakistan, the roads in Saddar had been crowded with males, girls and youngsters of the Dawoodi Bohra neighborhood. They had been all headed in direction of one path, the Taheri Masjid.

The buses, vehicles and bikes all had males in crisp white garments and ladies distinctly wearing these fairly and vibrant Bohra burqas known as rida.

Karachi this 12 months is internet hosting some 40,000 Bohras from all around the world for his or her annual congregation, or Ashra Mubaraka, which takes place in numerous cities yearly. There are guests from India, Sri Lanka, Iraq, UAE, the remainder of the Gulf area and the Far East, Malaysia, UK, Canada and the US. The lodges are full as are many Bohra houses who’ve welcomed members of their neighborhood with open arms.

“It’s after about 21 years that we’ve so many individuals from our neighborhood visiting. It’s the first time additionally that head of the Dawoodi Bohras Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin is holding the Muharram majlis collection. When the gathering was held 21 years in the past right here the sermons had been performed by [the late 52nd leader or dai] Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin,” mentioned Mustafa Tawawala, a senior member of the neighborhood in Karachi.

‘Our surnames say rather a lot about our household companies’

Because the Bohras comply with the Egyptian calendar, the Muslim 12 months for them commenced a day earlier than everybody else in Pakistan. And the primary day was marked with the birthday of the thaal or the large chrome steel serving platter positioned on a kundli or picket stool round which some eight folks can sit cross-legged to benefit from the dishes.

Normally, there are about 53 dishes on every thaal. Fifty-three as a result of the current chief of the neighborhood occurs to be the 53rd one. However that’s not all, the variability in dishes is in accordance with the idea of sakhan, which is a want to be blessed in as huge quite a lot of methods are there are dishes on the thaal. The extra the dishes the extra the blessings.

There’s every kind of meals together with the favored Bohra khitchra, a rice and meat dish, rooster, fish, greens, pickles, salads, raita, savoury dishes, deserts and fruit on the thaal. Each meal begins and ends with the tasting of salt however on the birthday of the thaal on Muharram 1, it’s customary to first cross a coconut over the thaal seven occasions in clockwise movement. Then after

the tasting of salt it’s time to have the sweetened rice. As a shukrana or thanksgiving each pleased event throughout the neighborhood begins by having the candy dish first.

On Sunday, Sakina Bookwala and household, who crossed over to Pakistan from India by practice just a few days in the past, had been on their manner for the majlis in Saddar. “We’re travelling from Mumbai in a gaggle. We first arrived in Lahore earlier than coming to Karachi,” mentioned Sakina, surrounded by her fast household which incorporates her little daughter Sarah, who’s carrying a really fairly cap with sail boats, steering wheels, anchors and lifebuoys embroidered on it.

The household can also be accompanied by the prolonged household comprising cousins, aunts and uncles. All could possibly be noticed from afar of their conventional apparel. The ladies are carrying totally different colored rida and the lads the three-piece white kurta, pajama and saya, an extended matching coat worn over the kurta. On their heads they’re carrying white caps with golden embroidery. Some additionally put on golden caps with white embroidery.

When requested if she prompt the design on her cap, Sarah smiled shyly earlier than nodding. And what number of caps did she have? “Three,” she mentioned. “This and two extra, one embellished with lace and the opposite with ribbons,” she added.

“The caps function coaching headgear for when they’re sufficiently old to adorn the rida. Additionally they show as encouragement to decorate decently,” defined Sakina. All of the little women going to attend majlis put on related caps. One lady has totally different color fish on her cap, one other has beads on hers. The caps match the garments. “We’ve loads of cap makers inside our neighborhood. They’re consultants of their craft,” mentioned the mom.

A few of these consultants will be discovered on the close by Najmi Market, too. There are outlets there catering particularly to the Bohra neighborhood as they’re additionally owned by Bohras. Unstitched rida sellers, rida tailors, outlets promoting lace for the borders of the pleated rida capes with hoods and the lengthy skirts and outlets which promote Bohra menswear. There are additionally outlets promoting different issues of every day use such because the picket slippers, or kharawein, as they’re known as, attar, bukhur, the quick, fats incense sticks, thaal, kundli, and so on.

The guests to Pakistan although don’t actually have time to buy. Sakina and her household mentioned that they’d be leaving across the 12th of Muharram. “Want we might keep longer however the youngsters would miss an excessive amount of of faculty then,” she identified.

With so many Dawoodi Bohras round abruptly others need to know extra about them, which isn’t straightforward to do as they’re a really peace-loving, quiet neighborhood who preserve to themselves and don’t prefer to fuss or entice consideration in direction of themselves. “We’re generally often called ‘Bohri’ right here, which is a distortion of Bohra. We don’t even name the bazaar, generally often called the Bohri Bazaar that. We name it Bohra Bazaar,” Mr Tawawala mentioned.

“The phrase ‘Bohra’ means merchants, by the way in which,” he mentioned. “Our neighborhood has been related to numerous trades,” he added.

“As an example, in case you come throughout a Bandukwala, you will be sure that he’s a progeny of somebody who traded in looking rifles. Equally, up within the household tree of a Sadriwala there should have been somebody concerned within the commerce of promoting or making umbrellas. So our surnames say rather a lot about our household companies,” he mentioned, including that such names are frequent in Gujaratis, who occur to be business-minded folks.

Coming again to their apparel, one puzzled if it is also a problem because it units them aside. “It offers us an identification, too,” says Mr Tawawala. However what if that identification makes them a goal for troublemakers? “We’re a peaceable, non-political neighborhood. Why would anybody goal us?” He puzzled aloud upon which he was reminded in regards to the bomb blast exterior Saleh Mosque in 2015 and the worst of all assault on Bohri Bazaar in 1987.

“If we turn into afraid of some remoted incidents that occurred through the years and don’t put on our conventional garments or cease going to our mosques, or jamatkhana, then we additionally lose our tradition and out identification,” he concluded.

Revealed in Daybreak, September 25th, 2017

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