Muharram 2021: Date of Ashura in India, Saudi Arabia and other countries

Muharram 2021: Here’s when Shia and Sunni Muslims in India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other countries will mark the day of Ashura or the tenth day of Muharram this year.

Muharram 2021: Date of Ashura in India, Saudi Arabia and other countries
Iraqi Shiite Muslims take part in a mourning procession during the month of Muharram leading up to the day of Ashura, at the Imam Abbas shrine in Iraq's holy city of Karbala(Photo by Mohammed SAWAF/AFP)

Muharram is the first month in Islamic calendar followed by the lunar months of Safar, Rabi-al-Thani, Jumada al-Awwal, Jumada ath-Thaniyah, Rajab, Shaban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Zu al-Qadah and Zu al-Hijjah. It is the most sacred month in Islam after Ramadan and marks the beginning of the lunar calendar which Islam follows.

The word Muharram means ‘not permitted’ or ‘forbidden’ hence, Muslims are prohibited from taking part in activities like warfare and use it as a period of prayer and reflection. While the first day of Muharram is known as Al Hijri or Arabic New Year, the tenth day is celebrated as Ashura by Muslim community across the world.

Islamic lunar calendar:

The Islamic calendar is based on a lunar cycle, unlike the Gregorian calendar. A month lasts for 29 or 30 days in this calendar, depending on the moon sighting. A new month begins when the new moon is sighted on the 29th day of the ongoing month. If it is not sighted on 29th, the ongoing month completes 30 days and a new month starts the next day.

Date of Ashura:

Unlike the Gregorian calendar that consists of 365 days, Islamic calendar has about 354 days divided into 12 months and depends on the sighting of the crescent moon which varies from country to country. This year, the Islamic New Year is referred to as Hijri 1443 AH (Anno Hegirae in Latin or the year of the Hijra).

It means that it has been 1443 years since Prophet Mohammed's migration from Mecca to Medina. This year, the crescent for Muharram was sighted on August 9 in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and other Arab states who marked the first day of Muharram on August 10.

Hence, Ashura in these countries will be celebrated on August 19. In India, the Markazi Ruyat e Hilal Committee under Imarat e Shariah New Delhi confirmed the start of the Islamic New Year 1443 AH on Wednesday August 11, 2021 hence, Ashura will be marked in the country on August 20, 2021.