Often participants uses something that looks like a “cat-o-nine tails.”

A few days back might have been my last true adventure in Kashmir. It was Ashura the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram. This day is well-known because of how the Shi’a sect of Islam mourn over the martyrdom of Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala in the year AD 680. Shi’as express their mourning by beating their chests, whipping themselves with knives and cutting themselves with small pieces of glass as well as by crying while listening to speeches on how Hussein and his family were martyred. It is a incredibly graphic event and quite surreal to observe.

I went out and walked through the masses of people all dressed in black beating and whaling of the death of this leader. It felt as if he was a current leader you just passed away, yet this man died over 1,000 years ago. It reminded me of something that Bernard Lewis wrote in his book “Crisis of Islam : Holy War and Unholy Terror” He said when we in the West say something is “history” we mean it is over and done with. Maybe even something to be forgotten. But when a Muslim says something is “history” the point is that is is something to remember, to feel and to live up to.

I leave for the US on Monday, Feb. 5th. This is not just a trip but a move. We leave Kashmir after 13 years. It will be a huge change for me and my family. Your prayers are coveted.

Many of the mourners walk around with a dazed glare.

This man was in such a trance like state people had to hold his arms down so the procession could move on.

Even the young were involved. Yes, he is wearing a Cub Scout uniform.

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