Jinns of Mochi

Clamor and sweat, commotion and suffocation, uproar and eruption. For the past three years I have found myself among these sensualities in the Mochi Gate area of Lahore, in the late hours of 9th Muharram. 

When I was a child and oblivious to the practice of Hussainism, my mother would often bring up the mention of the processions of Mochi Gate, and the legend of supernatural forces (Jinna’at/spirits) participating, even assisting, in the tumultuous traditions that took place in those exceedingly crammed streets. The legend is simple (hah): there are jinna’at present among the overcrowded rallies, hovering overhead and assisting in carrying the heavy tabuts and shabeehs. Their bodiless forms racing from end to end invigorating the frail humans below to not succumb to the daunting physical aspect that is part of these rituals. 

However, the Shia sensibilities I grew up in were always rather moderate and this new year, I am yet to step foot inside a Muharram procession and chances are I will not. Sitting here at home binging majalis on Youtube, spending time in prayer and remembrance, my spirit is well-fed. Yet now after all, I can feel the so-called supernatural, most-likely made up jinna’at of Mochi Gate creeping up behind me, calling my body to be physically present amidst the chaos in those streets. Amidst chants, thumping chests, a sudden stampede when a Zuljanah is passing through. Langar at every doorstep. All night long until a unique Fajar azaan is sounded, and with it, the dawn of the battle. 

Four times Allahu Akbar resonates within the narrow streets of Mochi as it did in the barren desert of Karbala, and thousands of souls, supernatural and human, erupt into a wail. The air is filled with sheer stupor. Then the shahada of Tauheed, and somewhere in Karbala swords are taken out of their sheaths. The shahada of Risalat, and archers ready their bows for the Rasool’s grandson. So on and so forth, until all hell breaks loose.

I don’t know if I believe in the jinna’at of Mochi but if there is anything that can elevate our finite humanness into a form beyond comprehension, it is Hussain’s defiance. His “La”, the very root of Tauheed.






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