Monday, January 12, 2009
Moharram in Downtown Los Angeles
The Moharram procession in downtown LA are an interesting cultural phenomenon. The mostly South Asian attended and organized event happens every year near Broadway and 6th and attracts Shias from around Southern California. In the two years I have attended there has been a large turnout of people from over a wide range of ethnicities including Indian, Pakistani, Iranian, Afghani, Iraqi, and Lebanese all reciting "noha" or lamentations in their own languages and traditions.
In comparison, the Los Angeles procession is much smaller to the New York City version, which has been going for over 20 years. This year in New York, a friend of mine let me know that there was the largest English component to the procession to date. This development of a unique movement of English "azadari" mourning traditions is a transition to an organic religious culture of the English speaking West. The shift is a much needed advance for second and third generation Shias who are shying away from the languages of their immigrant parents.