The Annual Muslim Mourning on Muharam Festival
The annual Muslim Mourning on Muharam festival is famous along with the self-flagellation by the devout — many families originally belonging to the district of Balrampur in India return each year to celebrate with their relatives. There are mosques in every village in this district, but no churches to be found. The Muslims and Hindus of Balrampur live in relative harmony and friendship.
The “Mourning of Muharram” is an important festive period of mourning in Shia Islam, taking place in Muharram which is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is interesting that a Shia Hadith (traditional saying of the prophet Muhammad) says, “Once when he happened to pass by Karbala (a holy city for Shiite Muslims), Isa (Jesus) sat down and began to weep. His disciples who were observing him, followed suit and began weeping too, but not comprehending the reason for this behaviour, they asked him: “O’ Spirit of God! What is it that makes you weep?” Isa (Jesus) said: “Do you know what land this is?” The disciples replied: “No.” He then said: “This is the land on which the son of the Prophet Muhammad shall be killed.”
Flooding in Balrampur, India
The district of Balrampur is located in northern India in the state of Uttar Pradesh, adjoining Nepal. The three main towns found in the district are Balrampur, Utraula, and Tulsipur (see all on Wikipedia). The main river flowing through the district, the Rapti, is notorious for annual flooding, bringing much hardship to the people living on its banks. Less than 10 per cent of the population have large land holdings while 90 per cent are subsistence farmers with small land holdings, or agricultural labourers. The majority of inhabitants are illiterate. Presently, the land is unable to sustain the population and many people migrate to other cities in India such as Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Jaipur.
The Needs in Balrampur, India
Few workers are focusing their efforts on the Islamic community and unfortunately the efforts are not sufficient for this largely unreached area. The main languages spoken in Balrampur are rustic dialects of Hindi known as Dehati and Urdu. It is estimated that over 40 per cent of the district is Muslim, and possibly 60 per cent is Hindu, with very few Messianic believers.
- Pray that God will send well equipped believers who can speak the local languages to work in Balrampur.
- Pray that God will open hearts to receive the Gospel, especially in the major towns listed above and in the numerous villages.
- Pray for the seekers currently enrolled in the Bible correspondence course. Some students have indicated that they are ready to believe in the Messiah.
- Pray for the safety of the believers, as well as the safety of future disciples.
Listen to the Podcast – DAY 10 – Reaching India’s Unreached in Balrampur, India
Video: Sights and Sounds of North India (3:51)
(Attribution: Photo thanks to Muhammadhani