Eid Milad an-Nabi or Barah wafat, as it is commonly called, is the festival that signifies the birth of Prophet Mohammad. In some other Arabic countries, this day is also known as Mawlid, (which means ‘the birth’). This day also happens to be the day of his demise.
Barah wafat is a term that was coined for the 12 days that he suffered of his ill health, culminating in his death! In compliance with the Muslim calendar, barah wafat falls on the 12th day of Rabi-al-Awwal. The festival is mainly celebrated by the Shia sect of the Muslim community.
These twelve days of the festival are marked with prayers, introspection, and charity to less privileged. Religious Muslim leaders hold community meetings in mosques where the preaching of prophet as well as parts of the holy Quran is read out. In some mosques, ‘marsiya’ (or holy hymns) are sung as a means to mourn the loss of their religious leader. In some cases, the well-known poem by Busiri – Qasida al-Burda Sharif, are recited by poets and scholars alike.
Barah wafar is marked as a national holiday in our country. The holy relics of the prophet (which includes the prophet’s ‘hairs’) are put on public display at Hazratbal shrine. The memorial is placed on the fringes of Srinagar, in India. During the festival, thousands of Muslims visit this holy shrine to offer night long prayers known as ‘Shab-khawani’.
Celebrations in the other parts of the country
Lucknow, which is the capital of Uttar Pradesh celebrates this auspicious day in a grand way. The festivities are initiated by a public procession on the streets (known as Madh-e-Sahaba). This procession is mostly celebrated by the Sunnis. During the procession, the youths and small children, divine songs make up the parade. The show exhibits portrays of various mosques from the holy cities of Medina and Mecca.
In some parts of our country, this 12 day festival is celebrated as ‘Sandal Rite’. It is so named due to the fact that a sandal horse like depiction is set aside emblematic foot prints of the beloved Prophet; while the horse depicts the one which transported Mohammed to the gates of Allah. Both of these religious possessions are kept for display a bedecked and fragranced house.
One must take a note that this festival is celebrated only in the Indian subcontinent and in some parts of Egypt. This is due to the fact that, the holy prophet never encouraged his followers to celebrate the anniversary of his birth. This makes it even more special and exclusive among the Muslim community in India.