Your story
Dawoodi Bohras - Your story

Victim of Sayedna's diktat

As kids we were subjected to some sort of confusion at home... there was my Mom telling us to do sajdah and kiss the feet of the Sayedna whenever he was in town and on the other hand, my Dad scoffed at even the thought and reprimanded us for having done so. We wondered why the disparity in thoughts when all we could see around us was an insane sort of worshiping for the High Priest.

I had even begun to believe that this was the God we had always been praying to. It was only when I reached puberty and had to take misaq that I realised that this man and all his doings were a mere hoax and he was no saintly figure we had been led to believe he was.

In the metropolitan city I lived, Sayedna Mohammed Burhanuddin was a regular visitor and you need no two guesses to say why. The big crorepati businessmen of the city were always inviting him over from Mumbai after quoting astronomical sums as salaams. I remember my Mom dragging us to the masjid and to those homes where ziyafat was being held and where the salaams would be taken. I always came back from these events overawed and felt a trifle annoyed with my Dad for criticising the Sayedna.

It was then the Udaipur incident happened and soon we got the news that all our relatives there had been termed ‘washamras' and were facing social boycott for having gone against the Sayedna. Mom was upset while Dad rejoiced that finally the world was awakening. I still didn't know whose side to be on. We always visited Udaipur every once in two years but the visit after the Udaipur incident proved to be quite traumatic.

Having no alternative, we stayed with our mother's relatives who were all facing social boycott (baraat). Mom was scared that if the Sayedna's people found out we had put up with the ‘youthis' we would be socially ostracised back home, too. This fortunately did not happen then but later, when my sister and I went to Udaipur to attend a cousin's marriage all hell broke. My parents were called to the aamil's office and reprimanded for having allowed us attend a ‘youthi's marriage ceremony. We were told that we were barred from attending all jamaat functions till the aamil got the green signal from the Kothar in Mumbai.

For my Mom it was the most traumatic period of her life, especially since all our relatives here refused to talk to us. Our neighbours, who had always been so close to us, began to avoid us like the plague whenever we bumped into them in the building. Mom was devastated and Dad too was very disturbed by the way our Bohra friends were behaving with us both on the social front as well as in business circles. It was six months later and after repeated pleas we were ‘readmitted' into the Bohra social circle. Yet, Mom found it very difficult to visit the masjid after the lifting of the ‘ban' because she was conscious of people staring at her and whispering amongst themselves.

A couple of years later the baraat was reinforced upon our family following the marriage of my elder sister into a reformist family from Udaipur. The irony of the whole affair was that her marriage was not attended by my parents and had been conducted under the supervision of my youthi relatives in Udaipur. Despite this, the aamil from our city imposed baraat upon us, alleging my parents had attended the wedding. This was all a big lie and been fabricated by the so-called mumins of Udaipur. This time the social ostracisation was for nine months.

Mom was grieving twice... one because she hadn't been there to see her daughter married off and secondly, she was being shunned by neighbours and relatives alike because there was this baraat on us. Again repeated pleas to the aamil fell on deaf ears. The family suffered because my mother was suffering. For we siblings, it did not matter much because we had our own social lives among our classmates and my father anyway stayed away from the jamaat.

But my mother had already been made accustomed to the jamaat life and was finding difficult to stay away from it. Well, this was exactly what the Kothar wanted. Get the people on such a high that they find it impossible to live without it... thus always toeing the line.

When the baraat was finally lifted, all of us had become disillusioned with the ways of the jamaat. I, for one, was fed up and found the whole thing such a farce. My elder brother, too, was going my father's way. In fact, even my mother was beginning to hate the whole social system which the Sayedna had inculcated upon us.

It was then that I too got married to a reformist Bohra from Udaipur, going against all odds. Having seen the shallowness of this society run by the Sayedna and his clones, I was finding the whole thing suffocating and couldn't wait to get out. This time, too, my parents did not attend the wedding and my youthi relatives in Udaipur took care of everything. Emotionally, I was shattered for I was far from home and going through all those premarital nerves without my parents and brother to help me through.

Since then it has been one furtive game for us all... whenever my sister and myself visit our parents (the two of us are based abroad) it is done very secretly. It is always a short trip and we are confined to the house. Cannot afford to be seen outside with the family because if one of those Sayedna's unofficial snoopers (in fact, the entire community appears to me as spies) happen to see us, our parents and the rest of the family stand to be harassed by the aamil and his clones. And so life is going on...