Demonstrating communal harmony, hundreds of Hindus Monday joined Muslims’ Muharram processions in Orissa as part of their years-long tradition.

The Hindus joined the processions at several places to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, grandson of Prophet Mohammed.

Dozens of Muslim youth slashed their bodies with sharp weapons at Jatani town in the district of Khordha, some 20 km from here, while some walked on burning coals and many inserted iron pins in their tongue, cheeks, chest and back.

In the western town of Sambalpur, the tazia (replica of the Imam Hussain’s shrine) was carried out by a Hindu family.

The family of Lal Mohan Padhihary has been taking out the procession for more than three centuries as their ancestors undertook a pilgrimage to holy Mecca and Medina and got their wish fulfilled.

“We have been doing it as part of our tradition which is hundreds of years old,” Mr. Padhihary said.

“At least 36 processions were taken out in coastal Bhadrak town, some 142 km from here.

“More than 15,000 people including hundreds of Hindus participated in the peaceful procession,” Haji Muhammad Abdul Bari, president of the Chauda Mahala Muslim Jamat, told IANS.

Only 2.1 percent of the state’s total population of 36,706,920 are Muslims. Muslims and Hindu families are known to participate in each other’s religious functions in the state.