Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Grief of a Grand Father

I liked him the moment I saw him, I tried to reach out to him , as he stood in a corner softly beating his chest to our lingering lyrical loss of our beloved Imam.

As a photographer through his picture I bought out the noble ancestry of pain , a pain the Shias call Ghame Hussain..

As a grand father I saw him vividly and than while I am writing text I am hit hard in the guts, feeling the pain of another grand father in Mumbai who took his two grand children , girls aged 7 years and the other one and a half year at a Goregaon Mall ..he was using the escalator and his feet slipped thereby the little one falling to her death at the feet of the elevator..this is also human pain,and I can understand his shattering grief and the family's irreparable loss ..

Yes being a grand father is a tough one ..as a Shia need I say more..

Imam Hussain was no ordinary grand son either.,..

The Hyderabadi Blade Matam

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The largest consumption of razor blades in a single day that could be a Guinness World record is perhaps Ashura day in Hyderabad , at the Bargah and on the streets by mourners following the Bibi Ka Alam.,.the streets are littered with them, and as they go on losing the sharp edge , more blades are given to the mourners by the Anjumans and private donors..

Normally the blade is broken in half and slipped between the two fingers beating the chest..to the chant of Ya Hussain Katle Shor..or Ya Sakina Ya Abbas ..

Others tie the blades on short wires and their effectiveness on human flesh is as damaging as the more expensive flagellating blades.

After this gets over at the Bargah the kama matam or cutting of the heads start..shooting all this getting a right place I kept moving into puddles of blood..I am barefeet like the rest of them..

I shot this event in Ashura 2003 but not for so long, Hyderabad has a strong hold on me , and I cant explain this in simple English..

I was here from 8 am till 3 pm..shooting non stop..

The Hyderabadi Shias Are A Unique Race

The Hyderabadi Shias
are a unique race
doing the blade matam
with souls ablaze
men children in unison
a heritage of their birthplace
every stroke hands apace
every heart is ashura
every soul is karbala
the essence of reality
to showcase
ghame hussain
a 1400 pain
that no yazid
could replace
moharam like this
never happens
in any other place
hyderabad
the city of peace
the city of hope
footsteps trace
Hussein as humanity
they embrace
Allah Ho Akbar
Allah Be Praised


یاحسین یاحسین یاحسین یاحسین

کـل یـــــوم عــــاشـوراء کـل ارض کـــربـــلاء
يــــــا أبــــــــو الأحــــــــرار یــــــاحـــــســیـ

The Shias of Hyderabad

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From 8 Moharam till Ashura - the Shias of Hyderabad dont sleep as some thing or the other is always happening , some majlis , some ritual , and these carry on back to back.

The night before Ashura there was a procession at the Shia cemetery Mir Mousavi which got over pretty late , and early morning the following day people were either going to the Bibi Ka Alawa or coming to the Bargah for Ashura 2009.

The Hyderabadi Shia is a rare breed for him Ghame Hussain is the ultimate , his life his familys life revolves around this which collectively is known as Azadri e Hussain.

The Hyderabadi Shia is a peace loving , law abiding and stays on his side of the fence.

His black clothes are his brandy equity..his curfew pass so to speak, he is never hassled by the cops at all.

They know his motive his life's goal is Moharam and Azadari..the month of sublime pain for the Shias all over the world.

His cry of pain Ya Hussain Katle Shor

Ghame Hussain

Tum Kya Jano Hamare Gham Ko
Ghame Hussain ke Sitam ko

Bastard Dont Shoot My Picture

He is an Anglo Indian man , a street dweller , he lives off the streets, penury poverty reduces man to a speck on the pavement , everybody sees him , but it is Xmas time no one has time for him , or his lack luster existence , I shot this before wishing him Merry Xmas and he hit back with filth and foul words, not that it bothers me , but its a sad state I owe my upbringing to my life spent with Anglos..most important was the Rhubottom family..a very cultured family that lives at Strand Cinema with their members in UK America and Canada..

I knew Allan Gill a great friend and dress designer , he touched us all but than was in a big rush to get back home on the other side of no man land..he died in misery too and it was my other nice friend Bipin Tanna who took care of him till he breathed his last.

Ashura at Bargah Hazrat Abbas Diwan Deodi 2009

I am posting the Ashura in Hyderabad 2009 pictures first , this was shot at Bargah and here the events start unfolding from 8 am , first the nohakars recite the nohas than begins the blade matam, zanjir and kama matam..

To shoot this in entirety I missed the Bibi Ka Alams departure from the Allawa to the various streets of Hyderabad, I caught up with it about 5 pm..However I had shot this in 2003 when I came here both for Ashura and Chehlum.

The Bargah is a very famous Shia citadel of Hyderabad, and Mr Baqar Saab and his family Hyder Raza and Imran had invited me here in sheer humility and love of Imam Hussain.

Al the events re elaborate , of heritage and ancestry of a unique culture not fund anywhere in India , though it is reminiscent of the traditions of Deccani charm and culture pertaining to Shiasm as practiced here.

After this I will post the Bibi ka Alam procession and take you back till the events of 8 Moharam that I shot in my three day stay..

Message of Imam Hussain is a message of humanity and a message of Peace..

Moharam a 1400 year old pain is nothing but a warning against Terrorism, a terrorism created by the progeny of Yazid in modern times that loves targeting Shia Ashura procession as in Karachi Pakistan..this is the vilest act , and totally unpardonable as a coward law and machinery watches from a safe distance ..as I am apolitical as regards to all this I share the grief of those who lost their lives and I have just these few words to say...

ALLAH HUMMA LA'AN QATLATA HUSAIN (AS) WA AWLADIL HUSAIN (AS) WA AS-HABIL HUSAIN (AS).

Shah Ast Hussain..Moharam in Hyderabad 2009 Ashura

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I start a new intense series at Flickr , Moharam in Hyderabad 2009.

I have cut my head in most of the cities of India , but Hyderabad is a city I will never forget , as a Shia and as a photographer blogging pain.

I arrived barefeet in Hyderabad on 8 Moharam .. I stayed for a single day at Hotel Charminar , at Dewan Deodhi close to the Bargah of Hazrat Abbas.

I left the hotel the same day a friend Naqi bhai put me up in his house as it is close to the other Dargah of Hazrat Abbas called Choti Bargah..where I have a lot of dear friends well wishers , specially the kids who were there taking care of my simple needs tea and water..

I must mention no cooking takes place in a Shia Darga or at a persons house for 10 days food comes as Niyaz and there is far too much of it it is spread around.


I met my dear patron Nawab Shariyar Saab and his family at Shariyar Palace and tasted the Hazri here ..this on 8 Moharam morning too..

I shot 8 Moharam at Hussaini Kothi in memory of the soul of dear departed Nawab Rashid Ali Khan Saab the patriarch who passed away.

Hussaini Kothi is another memorable experience of old time Shia Nawabi charm Adab and Tehzeeb..and these are all blue blooded Nawabs, but they bend and salute each person that comes to their majlis ..I shot their kids ding this Adab a part of their Nawabi Tehzeeb and salutation..found also among the Nawabs of Lucknow and Mehmoodabad

I had to abort the Hussaini Kothi shoot my battery and charger failed ..I had to go buy a new battery at the Kothi market the same day.. but I had shot quite a bit of footage.

I had also carried my film camera F100 just in case..



On 8 Moharam night I shot both the Dargahs when the Alams are taken into the crowd and put to rest.

On 9 Moharam I shot a majlis of Iqbal bhai a unique house majlis capture..

On 9 Moharam late night I shot the procession at the Shia cemetery called Mir Mousavi Deira ..I had never shot this before ..when I had shot Moharam in Hyderabad 2003 both Ashura and Chelum.. I was back here after six years.

On Ashura I shot the entire proceedings from Baragh.. I cut my head but the blade was not effective..

I went to shoot the Bibi ka Alam when it had passed Charminar, this is the greatest moment of Shia pain, in every area the Alam arrives on elephant , the residents cut their heads like raw onions, scourge their backs and the quintessential Hyderabadi blade matam.

I took a dagger during this procession with my Nikon dangling round my neck leapt into the air and with several blows had cut my head , the picture I asked a bystander to shoot after my kama matam.

A little ahead I hit my head again with my hands to start the bleeding allover and did the Tandav on the Soul of Shimr on the streets of Hyderabad.

I aborted this procession , I had lost lot of blood could barely walk back to the Choti Bargah and at 8.30 pm again walked in the same condition to a Shia enclave for Shamey Ghariba ..this was in total darkness and flash was not allowed..

The tabaruk was the best here rice and curry and puddi.. made of dahi and chillies.

this trip I did not shoot the Imam Bargahs but connected with Sadik Bhai the Irani group head who with other Iranis feeds the poor and the devotees at Hussain Tekri Jaorah..this was at Darbare Hussain the Irani Shia strong hold in Hyderabad old city.


The only crazy incident that happened here was at the Choti Bargah, I was shooting some street urchins when a man out of the blues pulled my camera luckily it was around my neck before I could respond he had my neck in a vicious grip and continued strangling me , my other hand being useless and I was carrying a satchel that had the Nikon 80- 200 lens and my F 100 - I tried to bear it out rather than resist and damage my cameras ..he was biting my hand too, luckily my host and other Shia youth came to my help.. it turned out he was a mad man under drugs..the cops as usual arrived late and I refused to press charges..

This is the flip side of street photography and it can happen to the most street savvy person..

This is a set of 3500 pictures or more, the blood had seeped into my camera lens so see it as is where is ..

And God willingly I will shoot the Hyderabad Chehlum, with my American friend Dr Glenn Losack MD from New York Manhattan.


I have shot a family of tribal thieves, sorcerers Hindus who have converted with their entire community to Shiasm..

I shot a guy Rajesh from Latur a devout Hindu who comes to serve at the Choti Bargah ..he is a cobbler by profession , and takes care of the devotees shes and slippers , now hear this whatever he earns he buys food to the poor , and I am crying as I dont think anyone could be more poorer than him , yes this is Maharashtrian humility making me proud of my roots as a Mumbaikar in Hyderabad.

On Ashura he had cut his head too he wears only black clothes does matam on the streets at Civil Court , Chatta Bazar where the dargah is situated

I do not wish to bore you with text.. and I will avoid it ..only where it is necessary..

Read this as an Introduction to my set Moharam in Hyderabad 2009

Merry Xmas Dr Glenn Losack MD..From Bandra Hil Road

These are pictures I shot before I left for Hyderabad to shoot Ashura - Moharam .
I had last shot Hyderabad Moharam Ashura and Chehlum in 2003..

Shooting Moharam in Hyderabad is shooting the pain of the Shias of Hydserabad and how it affects the surroundings too..

I dedicate the Mohram series my next lot to Dr Glenn Losack MD from Manhattan New York, as he was far too keen to come and shoot Moharam in Mumbai or any city of my choice, but he was held back due to unavoidable reasons..


Perhaps we will shoot Chehlum together in Hyderabad God willingly..I missed Glenn as I cut my head twice on Ashura day once at the Bargah of Hazrat Abbas and the other more lethal one behind the Bibi Ka Alam,,there was no one to shoot me when I did Tandav on the soul of Shimr on the Streets of Hyderabad..

I have shot over 3500 pictures in three days from 8 Moharam to Ashura, I arrived from Hyderabad this morning at 5 am.

The Moharam in Hyderabad it is unique memorable mind blowing and happens nowhere else with this raw and wild intensity of a passion of pain called Ghame Hussain.


Besides street photography my chosen genre I shoot blood grime and gore embedded in the soul of Man..

I arrived in Hyderabad barefeet with merely the humility of my camera lens to capture a canvas of Shia pain..

Katle Hussain asal mein marge Yazeed hai
Islam zinda hota hai har karbala ke baad

Politics and Jesus Christ at Mahim

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they plead to
the new born
when they
lose steam
selling people
paper thin dreams
politics and Jesus Christ
on Xmas eve at Mahim
nothing has changed
so it seems
every new term
of ministerji
another new
scheme
for the builders
new pipe dream
bandra worli sea link
death down stream
system sucks
no esteem
eunuch silence
empty
voiceless
throatless
screams
a bounced
cheque of hope
time wont redeem
Merry Xmas Janta
another new theme

My collections at Flickr 11 years old documentary on

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