Thursday, January 17, 2008
The seventh night of Muharram in Muharraq, Bahrain
After meeting in the Husseiniyyas, which are often called funeral homes (ma'aatim, sing. ma'tam) in Bahrain, the young men and many older men go into the street to form processions organized by individual funeral homes. The processions last for several hours. The one I walked with lasted from about nine thirty until almost midnight. Men chant, sometimes rhythmically beating their chests, and generally enjoy a social occasion together. While the mood is somber at times, there is also joy in the event, which people look forward to annually. Young boys march too, usually mimicking their elders. Women and girls do not march (though they have a few ma'aatim of their own), but they are in abundance on the sidelines watching the event. All are wearing black abayas. The non-Muslim foreigner is readily welcomed.