Mourn in peace: Bada Qabarstan in Mumbai erects prayer room for women

Times of India | 2 months ago | 28-11-2022 | 04:48 am

Mourn in peace: Bada Qabarstan in Mumbai erects prayer room for women

MUMBAI: Till recently, women mourners at Bada Qabrastan at Marine Lines longed for a basic facility. In absence of a separate prayer room and a proper ghusul khana - a room to give bath and ablutions to bodies - women relatives would not visit the cemetery while the maiyat (body) was prepared for burial. The space-crunched residences in Mumbai too didn't help as bathing and shrouding the bodies couldn't be done at home. Now, in its 193-year-old history, the 7.5-acre Bada Qabrastan - managed by Juma Masjid of Bombay Trust - has created a separate ghusul khana for female deceased and a prayer room for women mourners in the southern periphery, near the mosque. "Earlier, ghusul khanas for both male asnd female bodies were in the middle of qabrastan. Since women are not encouraged to visit qabrastan, the female relatives wouldn't come to have a last look of and pray for the deceased. Now, that a separate ghusul khana at the corner, near the main gate has been created, women visitors can spend some time in seclusion and pray," said Shoeb Khatib, president, Juma Masjid of Bombay Trust. He added that since the path to the ghusul khana - the prayer room is on its mezzanine floor - is little away from the graves, women's access becomes easy. Many see the move as empowering women, giving them what's their due. "Why should we deny women the rights that our religion gives them? I feel blessed that the qabrastan management allowed me to do my bit for this good cause," said businessman Sabir Nirban, who funded the construction of the ghusul khana and prayer room. "We must change our patriarchal attitude and allow women access to sacred places," he added. Bada Qabrastan had led from the front in taking bodies of Covid-19 patients during the pandemic. Khatib, along with Nirban and Irfan Shaikh, were BMC-appointed coordinators and part of the task force of Raza Academy to facilitate the burial of Muslim victims of Covid-19. "We created a special zone for the burial of victims of Covid and suspected Covid at our qabrastan. We buried around 3,500 bodies in 42 qabrastans across the city, including 1,400 at Bada Qabrastan alone. When other qabrastans refused to bury a body, we accepted it," said Khatib. Bada Qabrastan will soon add another much-needed feature - a state-of-the-art mortuary - on its premises. "Whenever someone died and his or her relatives were abroad, it became difficult to keep the body for a couple of days if mortuaries didn't have space. Now bodies can be kept at a soon-to-be installed mortuary at the qabrastan," said businessman Hamid Nathani, who has funded the mortuary. "This is a need as many youngsters are settling abroad and cannot rush home due to logistical issues when their loved ones die."

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