Muharram integrates into local culture in Adilabad

Youngsters prostrating in front of the Moulali Sawari seeking blessings as part of Muharram near Chanda river on Wednesday.- PHOTO: S. HARPAL SINGH  

Nobody in Adilabad seems to remember when it was that the all important festival of Muharram, a State-funded event during the Nizam’s rule, got integrated into the local culture. The latest among the changes to have crept into the festivities is naming of the numerous Sawari Banglas as Hasan-Hussain Devasthanams though the Sawaris continue to bear Muslim names.

The Sawari, an oblong structure made of aesthetically slung pieces of cloth from a pole and carrying the sacred Panja carried by designated devotees, is the key element in Muharram and the place where the Sawari rests and worshipped during for the 10 day period used to be called Sawari bangla. During the Nizam's period, Sawari banglas were maintained by the government.

Over the years, Muharram has come to be associated with the fulfilment of wishes of the devotees who exhibit utmost religiosity while observing the rites. People believe that the Sawari, sometimes considered an image of god, blesses them especially with good health and conception.

For example, youngsters, both girls and boys were seen prostrating in front of the Moulali Sawari of Tatiguda which had come to Chanda river where its Panja was found. “The youths aspire good education among other things,” reveals Bompalli Tukaram, the Mujawar or priest of the Moulali Devasthanam.

Among the traditional Sawaris which continue to be a part of the festival are the Jalal Peer, Imam Khasim, Moglali, Mohammed Ali, Naale Hyder, Nabbi Sawari and Arabbi Sawari etc. The Jilla Sawari conceived when Adilabad was made a district in 1905 during the Nizam's government however, cannot be found now.

The Sawari is actually a form of the Taziya used by the Shia Muslims during Muharram. The Taziyas can still be found in the agency areas where the Gonds observe Muharram.

Muharram in Adilabad and its surrounding mandals also stands out for its special soulful tunes played on the dappu and shahnai. This music is held so sacred that it will not be played on any other occasion.

Numerous Sawari Banglas are named Hasan-Hussain Devasthanams, though the Sawaris continue to bear Muslim names.