Cloistered behind doors on Mason Road, around a hundred men and women of the Bohra community offered Eidul Fitr prayers on Monday, a day before Eid was expected to be celebrated officially in the country.
Members of the Bohra community offered Eid prayers at the only Bohra mosque in Dawoodi Bohra Markaz. Unlike various locations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where Eid is celebrated after receiving 48 testimonies of moon sightings according to the chief cleric of the Qasim Khan Mosque, the Bohra community celebrates Eid according to the Fatimid Lunar Calendar. Festivities were rather low profile on Monday as the doors of the compound only allowed in members of the community.
Fearing backlash for following the Fatimid Lunar Calendar instead of the moon sighting mode, the Bohra community confined their festivities to a compound in Lahore that is home to the sixth largest Bohra population in Pakistan. Karachi is home to the largest Bohra population and Hyderabad the second largest.
Despite security threats, the community did not request security from local authorities. In the early hours of the day, as members of the Bohra community arrived to offer Fajr prayers, only two men guarded the Markez. The two policemen were deputed after 6am on order of the Civil Lines station house officer.
The men wore a traditional white three-piece outfit and a long white gown with gold-rimmed caps. The women were dressed in ridas, a form of chador of various colours decorated with lace and embroidery. Dressed in distinctive attire, members of the Bohra community arrived at the Markaz before Fajr prayers after which several children took turns to recite from Holy Quran, followed by recitation of darud. Eid prayers were offered after the break of dawn. The community then enjoyed a hearty breakfast of sheer khurma and siri paye.
Eid prayers were led by Juzer Noorani who delivered a homily on peace and humanism.
Talking to The Express Tribune Amil (prayer leader) Juzer Noorani said that the Bohra community did not want to create friction in society by publicly celebrating Eid on Monday, before Eid was officially observed. He said Bohra teachings were all about peace and equality. He said that their prayers were about asking for forgiveness and blessing. “We pray for the betterment and safety of the Muslim Ummah.” He said they had also prayed for peace and prosperity in the country.
To a question regarding security concerns, Mustafa Saifuddin, a member of the management committee, said they had not requested authorities for security. “Extra guards too attract unwanted attention,” he said.
Saifuddin said that they had closed the main doors for five hours because of Eid prayers.
He said otherwise they were open for public throughout the year. “Anyone can walk in and read our literature and learn about our teachings,” he said. Qutbuddin Abdali, a businessman, told The Express Tribune that for them, celebrating Eid a day before it was officially announced was not new. “It is part of our faith and we are proud of it. But we don’t go around flashing that news.” He said Bohra teachings were all about living in harmony.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2014.
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