Lamentation Rituals: Shiite Justifications for Matam (Acts of Mourning and Self-mortification)
Before discussing in more detail the Shiite men’s guilds of Hyderabad, it may be worthwhile to analyze briefly one of the principal activities associated with these organizations: the performance of matam, actions of mourning or condolence. Although the term can be used generically to refer to any kind of funeral lamentation, among the Shiites of Hyderabad, as elsewhere in the Shiite world, matam typically designates observances performed during Muharram in honor of Husain and the other martyrs of Karbala. More specifically, the term denotes the striking of oneself—either with the bare hand (as indicated by the Persian term sineh-zani, “chest-beating”) or with some weapon or flail (as for example in the scourging known as zanjirzani)—in an act of ritual mourning. In this study I use the term matam to refer specifically to these practices of chest-beating and/or self-mortification involving weapons.
KeywordsBare Hand Spiritual Energy Prayer Ritual Communal Desire Ritual Mourning
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- 1.Nizam al-Din’s genealogy is given in Rukunuddin Nizami, Hayaat-e-Nizami (Life of HazratK. Nizamuddin Aulia), (Delhi: Kutub Khana Mahboobi, 1979), 3–5.Google Scholar
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