Sunday, January 19, 2014

‘We were hoping to celebrate his 103rd birthday’


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Much of south Mumbai was shrouded in white on Saturday as thousands of Dawoodi Bohras thronged the streets of the island city to pay obeisance to their 102-year-old spiritual leader Syedna Mohammed Burhannudin. Followers from as far as Malegaon, Jalgaon, Bhusawal, Navi Mumbai and even New Delhi flocked the city in the hope that they will catch a glimpse of their leader and pay their last respects to him. 

    Women and children were perched atop buildings and chawls lining Bhendi Bazaar to observe the solemn proceedings.   T h e wo m e n , dressed in hijab, recited prayers in Arabic praying for the Syedna’s soul. Some of them were even reading the holy Quran and praying for the souls of the people who had lost their lives in the stampede at the Syedna’s Malabar Hill residence early on Saturday morning. 

    Young boys (aged between five-10) were seen sitting on their father’s shoulders to see the long-winding procession.

    Bhendi Bazaar, which is usually abuzz with activity, was shrouded in silence as all roads leading to the area were shut between 12 noon to 2.30 pm. Bo
hri volunteers were deployed on streets to help people reach their respective destinations. 

    The Bohri community owns 70% of shops in Bhendi Bazaar. As a tribute to their leader, all of them had downed their shutters on Saturday.     As tears welled up in everybody’s eyes, some of the followers were talking about the great sermons that the Syedna had delivered. Shabbir Mamaji, a Bohri Muslim, who used to regularly attend
the religious leader’s discourses, said, “We have lost a great leader and the head of our community. It is a huge loss, no one can fill up his space. We don’t have words to express our grief.” 

    Ali Asgar, a student who had come from Navi Mumbai, said, “ The news came as a great shock for the entire community as all of us were eagerly waiting to celebrate the Syedna’s 103rd birthday which was slated to happen
in the next few weeks.” 

    The procession started at 9am from the Syedna’s Malabar Hill residence after a national flag was put on him and a police salute was given to him. 

    After over five hours, the procession reached Rautad Tahera mausoleum at Bhendi Bazaar where the departed leader was finally laid to rest. Just before the burial, community members offered zuhar namaaz and afterwards had a special namaz to pray for their revered leader.


Messages Caused Chaos

    Sources in the Bohri community said some people began sending text messages to their friends and families on Friday that they could come for the ‘deedar’ of the departed leader at Malabar Hill
    Around 35,000 to 40,000 people thronged the narrow lane leading to Saifee Mahal late at night, resulting in the stampede 
The Times of India, January 19, 2014

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