Chehlum procession, Jaunpur, 1439 Hijri.
Chehlum or Arba’een as many prefer to call it is observed around the world every year exactly forty days after Ashoora, the day of martyrdom of Imam Husain ibne Ali. It commemorates the visit of Imam Hussain's son, Imam Zain ul Abideen (a.s.), sister Zainab binte Ali (s.a.) and the rest of the surviving members of the Prophet's family to the graves of the 72 martyrs in Karbala. According to most historians, after being released from Sham (present day Syria) where Yazeed had imprisoned them for over a year, on their way back to Medina (Saudi Arabia) they stopped in Karbala (Iraq) for three days to mourn their loved ones. This was their first visit to Karbala (Iraq) in the year 682 AD after the massacre that had taken place earlier.The practice continues across the world till today.
The procession is unique as it is mostly centred around Ali Ghat,the bank of the river Gomti there. All the Alams, Zuljanah, Zarihs and the Taziyas are taken in the water of the river and mourners perform Nauha Khawani and Matamdari standing in water.Children and the elderly holding Alams partly submerged in water is a sight to behold. The volunteers carry out the important task of securing everyone who is inside the water. They form a human chain and no one is allowed to venture outside of it. The local administration is to be commended for all the security that they provide to the procession. The practice of Chehlum procession in the river commenced in the 1980s and is symbolic of a major part of the Battle of Karbala which took place by the River Euphrates in Iraq. Imam Hussain and his companions including little children were strictly prohibited from using water from River Euphrates to the extent that they didnot have a drop of water in their tents at least three days prior to Ashoora. Thus water in general holds a major significance when it comes to this gruesome tragedy.
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