Every year if there’s something that I truly look forward to is Asharah. The nine days during the month of Moharam Ul Haram, where we the people of bohra community, come together from all over the world and express our grief over Imam Husain’s martyrdom.
Every city, every town, every single village, where even a few people from our community resides will follow the exact same routine for all the nine days.
But there’s always one place where everyone wants to be during the days of Asharah, that is where our spiritual leader, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin is. A week before Asharah begins, our spiritual leader announces one place where he will be conducting the sermons and everyone tries to get there because the blessings received from him are incomparable to anywhere else in the world.
This year as you already might have figured out, Asharah Mubarakah 1441 held by His holiness was in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
And I was extremely fortunate to be able to go there and be part of the nine days of spiritual enlightenment bestowed on us by our leader, who we call Mufaddal Maula with fondness, love and respect.
For all the nine days, our mornings begin with waaz (sermons) in our mosque, where Mufaddal Maula through narratives and anecdotes teaches us important and valuable life lessons. The waaz always and always ends with the zikar (mention) of Imam Husain’s sacrifice for Islam. A sacrifice so painful and tragic that even the most hard-hearted person will be left in tears when they hear about it.
Our evenings are then spent listening to real people share real miracles that have happened to them at some point in their life. Miracles that are directly linked to Imam Husain and Mufaddal Maula. These evening majlis are concluded with maatam, a way through which we express our grief and lamentation for the martyrs of Karbala, for Imam Husain, His family and His followers that were brutally slaughtered 1400 years ago; the pain of which is so fresh, even today.
I don’t think English language has enough capacity to express what these days mean to us, what Imam Husain and what Mufaddal Maula means to us but every year when I come back from Asharah, I have this sense of indefinable sukoon (peace) and serenity that I don’t think anyone can find in the worldly things; the feeling is just inexpressible.
Hosting such a grand event in a foreign country is not easy, this Asharah drew thousands and thousands of members of the Bohra community from more than 40 countries. The main road in Colombo, called the Marine Drive where our mosque was located had to be blocked for the free movement of the crowd. Large grounds and halls were turned into relay and food centres where we would be served food three times a day. A special ground was dedicated to providing free coconut that was available all day for every member of our community. From tea to water to food, each and every thing is provided for all the 9 days of Asharah. From medical camps to transport facilities, even the smallest things are all taken care of.
Undoubtedly, such a large crowd gathered in Colombo brought in a lot of revenue for this Island country. Statistics show that Sri Lanka earned around 7 to 10 billion from the tourists that participated in these days. From the trishaw drivers to hotels to all the nearby restaurants experienced a crazy high demand.
For me personally this Asharah was truly surreal. Sri Lanka is a beautiful beautiful country, from the beaches to the roads, everything was so pristine. More than anything, I was actually just overwhelmed by all the love and respect the people of Colombo showed towards our community. Wherever we went, the locals kept thanking us for hosting our event in their country and saying that they would be happy to welcome us again next year.
For both the people of Colombo and for us, even before this Asharah was over, the wait for the next one had already begun.
Do checkout this video compiled by Taher Sadriwala for a complete glimpse of Colombo Asharah.