When Hindus mourned Imam Hussain

Ruchira Paul in Accidental Blogger:

Hussaini Brahmins The student population of my school in New Delhi was composed of girls from practically every part of India belonging to several different linguistic groups and religions. Nearly fifty percent of the Punjabi and Bengali students came from families who had lost their ancestral homes in the partition of India in 1947, my own being among them. In middle school, a class mate whose folks had moved to India from the Pakistani city of Lahore, once casually commented that her father's family used to observe Muharram in their hometown before the partition. At the time I didn't think much of what my friend had said. We were young and many of us had heard interesting pre-partition tales from our parents. It is only now, on thinking back, that her story acquires a special meaning and given the subsequent deterioration in Hindu-Muslim relations in general and between India and Pakistan in particular, also a certain amount of poignancy. You see, the remarkable thing about my friend's Muharram story was that she was not a Muslim, but a Hindu Brahmin.

My class mate belonged to the Punjabi community of Dutts, in more communally harmonious times also known as the Hussaini Brahmins. They, along with their Shia Muslim friends and neighbors, used to commemorate and grieve the deaths of Imam Hussain and his disciples in the bloody battle of Karbala during the 7th century power struggle among early Muslims.

More here. [Photo by Feroz Shakir.]