Keeping a low profile, Lahore's Bohra community celebrates Eid today

Celebrating Eid a day before official celebrations is normal for the community, which follows Fatimid Lunar Calendar.

Rameez Khan July 28, 2014

LAHORE: Behind closed doors at Mason Road, some hundred men and women of the Bohra community offered Eidul Fitr prayers on Monday -- a day before Eid is officially observed around the country.

However, unlike parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where Eid is also being celebrated today unofficially after 48 testimonies of moon sightings according to the chief cleric of Qasim Khan Mosque, the Bohra community celebrate Eid according to their Fatimid Lunar Calendar.

Prayers were offered in the only Bohra Mosque situated in Dawoodi Bohra Markaz in the city.

The doors of the compound only opened for entry and exit for members of the community, thereby keeping a low profile of the early celebrations.

In fear of being labeled as outcasts for following the Fatimid lunar calendar instead of the moon sighting, the Bohra community confined their festivities within the compound in Lahore -- a city with the sixth largest population of the Bohra community in Pakistan. Karachi has the largest number of members of the Bohra community, followed by Hyderabad.

Despite imminent threats, the community did not demand high security from local authorities. Throughout the early hours of the day, as members of the Bohra community arrived to offer Fajr prayers, only two policemen and four personnel guarded the markaz.

Security personnel arrived after 6 am and were deputed by the station house officer (SHO) of the Civil Lines Police Station – without any request from the Bohra community.

Dawoodi Bohra men wore traditional white three-piece outfits, mainly shalwar kameez and a long white gown with gold-rimmed caps. Women, on the other hand, wore the rida -- a distinctive form of burqas of different colors decorated with laces and patterns.

Dressed in their distinctive attire, the Bohra community arrived at the markaz before the time for Fajr prayers. After their prayers, young members of the community took turns to recite chapters of the Holy Quran, which was followed by recitation of darud. Eid prayers were offered after the break of dawn, after which the community feasted on sheer khurma and pai.

Eid prayers were lead by Juzer Noorani who spoke about peace and humanity during his sermon. Talking to The Express Tribune, Noorani said that as a community, they don’t want to create friction within society by publicly celebrating Eid a day before it is officially observed.

He said that Bohra teachings are all about peace and equality. He said that they had prayed for the betterment and safety of the Muslim Ummah, as well for peace and prosperity for the country.

A member of the community named Mustafa Saifudin said that they have not communicated to authorities regarding security concerns. He said that there were concerns, but extra security would also attract attention.

Saifudin said that the doors, which were closed for five hours, were only closed due to Eid prayers, adding that they remain open for anyone to walk in throughout the year to read their literature and learn about their teachings.

Qutbudin Abdali, a local businessman, told The Express Tribune that celebrating Eid a day before it is officially celebrated is nothing new. However, he added that the community did not make it obvious that they would observe Eid a day before.