LAHORE: Shia devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the anniversary of Hazrat Ali’s 
martyrdom on Tuesday.—AFP
LAHORE: Shia devotees take part in a procession to commemorate the anniversary of Hazrat Ali’s martyrdom on Tuesday.—AFP

KARACHI: Marking the martyrdom anniversary of Hazrat Ali, processions and majalis were organised across the country on Tuesday despite a ban imposed by the government on religious processions to check the spread of coronavirus.

Observing fast, the mourners dressed in black attended majalis remembering the life and martyrdom of Imam Ali before marching on traditional routes amid strict security arrangements.

All those joining the main Yaum-i-Ali procession in Karachi were frisked and sanitised by scouts at barriers and then allowed to attend the majlis at Nishtar Park, which was addressed by Allama Syed Shehanshah Naqvi at 6.30am.

The mourners wearing facemasks and keeping distance started their journey from Nishtar Park, passed through Numaish, Saddar Empress Market, Regal Chowk, M. A. Jinnah Road, Jamia Cloth Market, Light House and City Courts and reached Imambargah Hussainia Iranian in Kharadar, where the procession culminated at 11.30am, much earlier than the previous years.

In Hyderabad, however, the Yaum-i-Ali procession was held in the afternoon. Allama Syed Aale Bilgrami addressed the majlis before the procession was taken out along with the replica of Hazrat Ali’s mausoleum from Karbala Dadan Shah at around 3pm. The participants kept reciting nohas as the procession passed through Universal Chowk and the Lajpat Road area before reaching Qadam Gah Maula Ali before the sunset amid strict security arrangements.

The entire procession route remained completely sealed with barbed wire. Police and Rangers personnel provided security to the mourning procession. As the administration had earlier announced the modified business timings for several markets, shopkeepers resumed their commercial activities after the procession passed through the area.

Mourning processions were also held in Badin, Mirpurkhas, Sukkur and Jaccobabad where law enforcement agencies made security arrangements. The processions were held at different times of the day. In Sukkur and Jaccobabad, on the directives of administrations, all bazaars and markets were closed in the afternoon, while the procession in Mirpurkhas was held early morning.

In Lahore, officials estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 people participated in the mourning procession, fanning fears about the spread of coronavirus, according to AFP.

“I have attended this procession every year for as long as I can remember,” said Ali Kazmi, 28, who took part in the procession in Lahore. “They try to stop Shia mourning ceremonies and processions using different excuses. It is (coronavirus) today, before that it was the issue of security. It’s all excuses,” the devotee believed.

Smaller processions were also held in major cities across the country.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2021

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