Muslim-Buddhist Relations in a Ritual Context: An Analysis of the Muharram Procession in Leh Township, Ladakh

  • David Pinault


In 1891, as part of a visit to the northernmost borders of the Indian Empire, the newspaper reporter E. F. Knight traveled through Kashmir and then spent time in “the mystic land of Ladak.” In Knight’s account of his travels, Where Three Empires Meet, he describes his first encounter with Ladakhis. He makes clear which land and which population he prefers:

These men did not jabber and lie, fawn and smile falsely, after the manner of a Kashmiri who is trying to sell something … One comes to like these amiable Ladaki Buddhists; they are highly spoken of by all who have travelled in their country, as being truthful, honest, hospitable, and straightforward. They are a harmless, simple race, with none of the narrow bigotry and caste prejudices which draw so impassable a chasm between the peoples of India holding other creeds and ourselves … All this makes Ladak a far pleasanter land to travel in than either a Hindoo or a Mahomedan country, with their barriers of reserve and seclusion, which make it so extremely difficult for the stranger to acquire any but the most superficial knowledge of the natives. The Ladaki, on the other hand, will welcome one to his house, admit one into his most sacred buildings, and allow one to be present at any of his religious ceremonies, concealing nothing, and ready to give any explanation tht is required of him.

Following a religion that never persecutes, he is very tolerant to other creeds, though he adheres firmly to his own.1


Communal Relation Islamic Culture Islamic Community Newspaper Reporter Communal Harmony 
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© David Pinault 2001

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  • David Pinault

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