Imam Redha (A.S.) said: The one for whom the day of Ashura is a day of tragedy, grief and weeping, Allah The Mighty, The Glorious, shall make the Day of Judgment, a day of joy and happiness for him.
Bihar al‑Anwar, vol. 44, pg. 284.
A group of Khoja youth came forward to distribute 1700 niyaz packets for faqa-shikni* niyaz on Sunday, the day of Ashura. These niyaz packets were home delivered to the community members in record time of just 4 hours.
Aayam-e-Aza in Lockdown
Every year in Muharram, the Khoja community in Mumbai comes together to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) and his companions by attending Majalis and Azadari programs in their local mosques and Imambargahs. However, this year was quite different due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The lockdown, which is still in effect Mumbai, made everyone participate in online lectures at their homes to avoid social gatherings based on the guidelines issued by the local government.
Usually, on the day of Ashura, the entire community in Mumbai would gather at the local mosques or Imambargahs for Ashura day program that would start with aamals and end with faqa-shikni niyaz. It’s a custom that on this day of great grief, no one cooks food in their houses and the faqa** is broken typically with khichro or khichdi that is served in the mosque. In this way, the whole community eats the same type of simple food. However, since no one was able to physically attend any aamaal programs this year, a few Khoja youths came up with the idea to ensure that the custom would be kept alive whilst the on-going pandemic.
An Initiative by Khoja Youths
A few youths of Anjuman e Azadar e Karbala (AAK) thought of a new initiative of delivering niyaz food packets to each Shia family in Bandra, a coastal suburb located in Mumbai with a dense population of Khoja families. AAK is well known in Mumbai to be involved in Azadari activities as well as supporting the needy in times of Covid-19 (read about their earlier drive here)
What started off as a small idea, kicked off as a massive drive in the neighborhood of Bandra, which was totally unexpected. Community members who wanted the niyaz were asked to make prior registrations with the team. The initiative received a phenomenal response and more than 350 families registered to receive 1700 niyaz packets for faqa-shikni. More than 40 volunteers from our community came forward to offer assistance to deliver these niyaz, through their bikes and cars to take part in the sawaab.
Distribution of Niyaz Packets
The plan for distributing was to start delivering the niyaz packets from Zuhr and end it within a span of 4 hours.
Each food bag consisted of:
- Khichdo and Roti
- A bottle of Water
- Milkshake and
- Hand Sanitizer
The team also customized the food bags with the Ashura message “Don’t just weep on Husain (as), follow the footsteps of Husain (as).”
All the volunteers were trained in hygiene and maintaining social distancing while delivering the niyaz to ensure that no violations of the guidelines laid by the government took place.
The initiative was very well received by the community members, and even though the deliveries were contained in Bandra area, the team received quite a few requests from seniors from other parts of Mumbai which were catered as well.
* Faqa-Shikni: Breaking of the Faqa.
** Faqa: Faqa is partial refraining from eating & drinking – not to be confused with the Fasts observed in the holy month of Ramadhan. This is an act of mourning for the martyrs of Karbala, where the mourners refrain from eating & drinking on the day of Ashura till after mid-day time, when simple food is again consumed.