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'File 32/10 (4/18) Muharram Processions' [‎20r] (39/90)

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The record is made up of 1 file (45 folios). It was created in 6 Mar 1939-14 Dec 1944. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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Muharram will fall this year towards the end of
January. As P.A is aware Muharram in Bahrain is an
occasion for a somewhat disgusting exhibition by the
processionists from the various mahtams who cut them
selves about the heads with swords and knives and
generally work themselves up into a state of frenzy
and excitement. So far as I am aware Muharram pro
fessions are not allowed to take place in this way
in any other jbart of the Moslem World and even in
Iraq in the towns of Nejaf and Kerbala where the
main Shia* shrines are situated I am told that pro
cessions are controlled and that generally speaking
those who take part in the Muharram proceedings are
not allowed to leave their mahtams. It seems to me
that it is time that some effort was made to exercise
similar control in Bahrain. Bach year Muharaam pro
cessionists become more excited and there are always
unpleasant incidents. Excitement reaches fever pitch
and it only requires some small incident to cause very
unpleasant developments with which in my view the Police
would be totally unable to deal. During last Muharram
I was present to watch the Police arrangements in the
central square in Manama where most of the blood .flows.
These arrangements consist principally of a large number
of men on duty with each procession and a body of armed
police on the roof of a building in the square. These
armed police could in no circumstances open fire in such
a situation as to do so with .303 rifles would mean
killing many innocent spectators.
2. I made some enquiries and I learn that this
exhibitionism has the disapproval of many of the leading
Shias /-

About this item


This file contains correspondence related to Muharram processions performed by the Shia community in Bahrain. Much of the correspondence relates to the logistics of the processions including details of their routes.

In particular, the correspondence discusses the desire of foreigners resident in Bahrain to observe the processions and the complications that this caused. In this context, the file contains a copy of 'Instructions to be observed by those who wish to be present at future Muharram processions' written by Charles Belgrave, Adviser to the Government of Bahrain (ff 17-18). Also enclosed is a map of central Manama marking the area where Muharram processions occurred (folio 2).

The file also contains an account written by Belgrave of disturbances that occurred during the Muharram processions of 1942 (ff 28-34).

Extent and format
1 file (45 folios)

The papers are arranged in approximate chronological order from the front to the rear of the file.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the main foliation sequence commences at the front cover with 1 and terminates at the back cover with 45; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. An additional foliation sequence is also present in parallel between ff 3-39; these numbers are also written in pencil, but are not circled, and are located in the same position as the main sequence.

Written in
English in Latin script
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'File 32/10 (4/18) Muharram Processions' [‎20r] (39/90), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/819, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 23 February 2020]

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