Muharram traditions: The zuljinnah’s caretakers — a devoted family’s labour of love

Published: December 16, 2010

A picture of Duldul posing with his owner. FILE PHOTO.

LAHORE: Kamran Haider Naqvi of Krishan Nagar takes care of Duldul personally, carrying on a decades-old family tradition. This Arabian zuljinnah will take part in the Ashura procession on Muharram 9 from Naqvi Ki Imambargah to Khaima Saadaat, the second-biggest procession in the city.

The tradition began with his grandfather Syed Ahmad Naqvi, also known as Nihal. Born in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh, he shifted to Lahore at Partition. He opened an imambargah in Krishan Nagar and began a Muharram procession in 1949. But it wasn’t until many years later that he bought Duldul – the original – from Jhang.The Naqvi family says that taking care of Duldul was a major worry for their patriarch. The animal, beautiful yet also wild and spirited, seemed untameable. But then Syed Ahmad had a dream, in which Hazrat Ali (RA) told him that if he was loving and patient, Duldul would be fine.

“After that we didn’t worry. We took care of it as best we could and Allah also took care of it,” says one family member. Duldul was stolen once by a gangster, but was promptly recovered.

The animal began behaving better. After he took part in the zuljinnah procession, people were impressed at how the pure white zuljinnah would bow to the alam (flag). Syed Ahmad decided that the zuljinnah would always be the same breed and colour.

Syed Ahmad Naqvi died a couple of months ago. Now Kamran Haider takes care of Duldul III and Duldul IV, who are kept in separate stables. The former is 18 and recently suffered a deep gash that makes it difficult to take part in long processions. It still goes for daily walks, but Kamran is grooming the three-year-old Duldul IV to take over the main procession. It gets around three hours of training every day in paying respect to the alam.

“My grandfather set an example and I want to follow him,” said Kamran. “I consider them [Duldul III and Duldul IV] family members so I don’t trust any outside person to look after them.”

Zulfiqar Haider Naqvi, Syed Ahmad’s son, is a librarian in Punjab University and takes care of Naqvi Ki Imambargah. He said that they would continue the tradition of looking after the zuljinnah.

“This is a tradition my father started,” he said. “Some people oppose the idea but we are determined to keep Duldul forever. I hope Allah helps us.”

Duldul also participates in the chup tazia (silent procession) on Rabiul Awal 8 in memory of survivors of the Karbala massacre being taken to Syria.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • Mawali
    Dec 17, 2010 - 6:20PM

    How appropriate and perhaps telling an “imambargah in Krishan Nagar”. Recommend

  • SA
    Dec 18, 2010 - 1:56PM

    What a gorgeous horse!Recommend

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