Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend Ashara Mubaraka, Commemoration of the Martyrdom of Imam Husain (SA), organised by the Dawoodi Bohra community, in Indore Friday.
The PM will address the gathering, which is expected to run into over a lakh. The event will include speeches by Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the spiritual head of the Dawoodi Bohra community, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
This is the second major event organised by the Muslim community that Modi will be participating in. In 2016 he attended the World Islamic Sufi Conference in Vigyan Bhawan. His presence was objected to by sections of Muslims, who had accused the PM of trying to divide the community.
Apart from his address in Indore, Modi is also likely to have a meeting with the Syedna, who has been made a state guest by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
Ashara Mubaraka is the biggest annual event organised by Dawoodi Bohras. Ashara is a 10-day period at the beginning of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, when the sacrifices of Imam Hussein and others at the battle of Karbala are remembered. It is observed by Shias.
The Dawoodi Bohras, a Shia sect, are known to be an educated and affluent community. It was recently in the news over female genital mutilation (FGM), and Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi’s statements asking the community to stop the practice or the government would make them do it. A few months later, her ministry told the Supreme Court that there was no data on FGM in India.
All hotels in Indore are booked to capacity for the Ashara event, which is usually held in a different city of the world every year. An estimated 1.7 lakh people are expected to attend, many from abroad. The Syedna’s sermons will be telecast live to more than 15 locations in and around Indore.
This is the first time Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin will hold the sermons in Indore since he succeeded his father, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, to the highest seat of the Dawoodi Bohras in 2014. Burhanuddin had presided over the event in Indore twice — in 1986 and 2002.