Historical story

Chapter – 33 – Medieval Indian Society (Social Institutions and Customs) (d)

Last updated:2022-07-25

Major festivals of Muslims

Muharram, Milad-un-Nabi, Sabe-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Zuha were the main festivals of Muslims. Medieval Muslim society celebrated these festivals with great reverence. Shia Muslims used to mourn for the first ten days of Muharram. According to Shia legends, Hazrat Ali and his two sons-Hasan and Imam Hussain were martyred for the sake of Din.

In the memory of his martyrdom, Shias consider mourning every year on the tenth day of the month of Muharram by taking out crowns. On this day Shia Muslim men used to torture their bodies and put dust on their heads. He wore a black dress of mourning. According to Ibn Battuta, people used to distribute flour, rice and meat to the poor on that day.

Although the Mughal emperor was Sunni, he did not ban the celebration of Muharram, but Aurangzeb had forbidden the procession of Muharram in his kingdom. Nevertheless, the gathering of Muharram and the procession of Taziye never stopped. Due to this there used to be bloody conflicts between Shia and Sunnis on the day of Muharram, in which many people were killed.

Hijri month 'Rabi-ul-Awal' The birthday of Hazrat Muhammad was celebrated as Milad-un-Nabi on the fourth day. On this day a gathering of Sayyids, scholars and saints was held in the royal palace and the Quran was recited. Sweets and pudding were distributed among the poor along with sprinkling of rose water. Shah Jahan used to distribute a large sum of money on this occasion as a dole. Hazrat Muhammad also died on this day.

Hijri month 'Shaban' On the fourteenth day of 'Sabe-Barat' was celebrated. On this day Prophet Muhammad entered heaven. That's why Muslims used to celebrate that day. On the thirteenth day of Sha'baan, people decorate plates of curd and sweets in the name of the deceased members of their families 'Fatiha' Used to read Sweets and gifts were exchanged among themselves.

The second feature of this festival was the lighting of lamps and fireworks in homes and mosques. Firoz Tughlaq used to use fireworks for three days on this festival. Along with the royal family, the people of Delhi also used to come out on the streets to see the lights and decorations. The palaces, government buildings, gardens and baolis were lit up and the kings and rich people used to distribute money among the poor.

In the month of Ramadan, Muslims stay fast during the day 'Roza' Used to keep During this he did not drink even a drop of water. The last Juma (Friday) of the month of Ramadan was observed as Jumatul Vida. Eid-ul-Fitr and Id-ul-Zuha were important festivals of Muslims. Eid-ul-Fitr used to come at the end of the month of Ramadan. Eid was announced by firing cannon and playing bugle.

On the day of Eid and the day after that, Muslims used to greet their friends and relatives by hugging them. On this occasion, sweets were prepared in homes and distributed among the poor and were served to those who came home to wish Eid. Sweets were also sent to the homes of relatives and friends. Elder members of the family 'Idi' to their younger ones (some money and gifts).

Firoz Tughlaq used to give clothes and sweets to his courtiers, servants and slaves on this occasion. The Sultan used to go to the mosque with a procession of elephants and horses to offer prayers. Sikandar Lodi started the practice of releasing some prisoners from jail on this occasion. Jahangir and Shah Jahan had fixed a large amount of bail to be distributed among the needy and poor on the day of Eid. Aurangzeb also celebrated this festival with pomp.

Eid al-Fitr was celebrated on the first date of Shawwal month of Hijri calendar. Twelfth month of Hijri calendar 'Jai-ul-Hajj' Eid-ul-Azha or Bakra Eid was celebrated on the tenth day. Its preparations were done many days in advance. The emperor used to go to Idgah with procession and Lav-Lashkar to offer Eid prayers.

After this camel was sacrificed in the presence of the emperor. The Turkish Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq and the Mughal emperor Jahangir used to sacrifice goats with their swords. Rich people also sacrificed goats or sheep in their homes. They used to prepare sweets, puris, etc. in their homes and recited the Fatiha of their ancestors' names.

Contemporary texts show that in medieval Muslim society, festivals called 'Bada-Wafat', 'Atira-Chahar' and 'Shamba' were also prevalent. Apart from these, Yom al Juma i.e. every ordinary Friday is also called Eid ul Momin i.e. festival of the believers of Islam. Nauroz, Meena Bazar and Abe-Pasham were also celebrated during the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar.

'Nauroj' The first month of the Persian year 'Farwardis' It was celebrated on the first day of 20th or 21st March. This ceremony was mainly celebrated by the upper class Muslims and the amirs. Its ceremony lasted for nineteen days. This was the time for the departure of spring and the arrival of summer in India. The preparations for this festival used to start months in advance.

Places like Bazaar, Diwan-i-Khas and Diwan-i-Aam in the royal capital were decorated with golden fabrics of kinkhab, velvet, zari. The main function was held at the Diwan-i-Aam where elaborate decorations were done. Rich people also decorated their palaces. Ordinary people used to clean their houses and hang bandanavar etc.

Nauroj's fair was held at many places. The ban on gambling on this festival was removed. Once a week, the emperor's court was opened to all the subjects. The Mughal emperors 'Nisar' on such an occasion Started the practice of issuing new coins in the name of K, which were used on that occasion to distribute to the poor and to pay tribute to the people. Such coins were also issued on the occasion of coronation.

During these nineteen days, a lot of alcohol was also drunk and there was joy and enthusiasm all around. Many singers, instrumentalists and dancers from Persia used to reach the emperor's court. The Emperor's Chandoba was placed in the middle, which was adorned with diamonds and pearls and precious jewels. Around it were the Chandobas of the rich. The emperor and his nobles used to give valuable gifts to each other.

The birthday of the emperor was also celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy. Akbar started the practice that his birthday should be celebrated according to both the sun-year and the lunar-year. On this day the royal palace and court were decorated like Naoroj. Elephants and horses were decorated and presented before the emperor. The emperor used to take his courtiers with him to seek blessings from his mother.

Humayun started the practice of weighing the emperor with valuable metals and useful items on this occasion. Akbar used to do this ritual twice a year - according to the sun year and the lunar year. This practice continued till Jahangir and with some changes till the time of Shah Jahan, but Aurangzeb adopted the old method of weighing once a year and ended this practice at the age of 51.

Aurangzeb continued this practice for his sons after recovering from illness, on the condition that the money and things received in it should be distributed among the poor. The weighing ceremony began when the prince was two years old, while he was weighed with only one object. Then the number of items was increased every year, which gradually reached seven-eight, but in no case did it exceed twelve.

These items were later distributed to the mystics and needy people. After this ceremony, the emperor used to sit on the throne and receive gifts from the people. The emperor used to declare mansabdari for some people on this occasion and gave expensive gifts and jagirs to some people.

Meena Bazar was first started by Humayun. Akbar these days 'Khushroj' Used to say Shah Jahan used to set up this type of market after every function, after Nauroz it became mandatory to have this market. During the time of Akbar this market progressed the most. In the first month, the market was set up on boats inside the palace of the emperor, but later it was started in the baradari of the harem.

In this, the women and daughters of the rich used to sit in shops. Rajput women also participated in it. Most of the shops were for valuable clothes and jewellery. The emperor used to come to the market with the princesses and the queens of the harem and used to buy deals from the shops by paying double to triple the price. By buying more things from the woman whom the emperor was pleased with, he would provide more money than necessary.

Shah Jahan saw and liked Mumtaz Mahal for the first time in Meena Bazar itself. This market of women was followed by the market of men, where merchants from many countries of the world used to come to sell goods.

At the beginning of the rains, a festival like Holi was celebrated in the Mughal court. Jahangir celebrates this festival as 'Aab-e-Pashm' Used to say but historian Lahori 'Padashnama' In this 'Eid-e-Gulabi' Said. On this occasion, the prince, the chief amir and the courtier used to sprinkle rose-water on each other. Presents and gifts were given to the emperor.

It is clear from the above discussion that in medieval Indian society Hindus and Muslims celebrated their respective festivals. Muslim emperors had adopted some Hindu festivals and Hindus also participated in some festivals of Muslims.