280 VII. Asia in New Geographies of Theory ism focused on the ritual cleansing of Muslim history in Hindu pilgrimage centers, especially in Ayodhya in Northern India. Events far from the city led to large-scale rioting and communal violence in Mumbai that till today has poisoned the structures of feeling that characterized the city. Cities like Mumbai have become the privileged platforms for nation-wide mobilization around sensitive issues, partly because people from everywhere in India have migrated to Mumbai and are in touch with what happens back home, especially after the emergence of cell phones and social media. 23.1 The congregation before the procession of Ashura night during Muharram in Mumbai, December 2010. Source: Reza Masoudi Nejad. The connection with an “imagined hinterland” can not only be found among Hindus, but also among Muslims. In this case the hinterland is transnational, connecting Mumbai via old trade routes to Karachi and Dubai. Such connections were shown in a dramatic fashion in a series of bomb blasts in 1993. In retaliation for the killings of hundreds of Muslims by Hindu mobs in Mumbai in 1992 a series of bomb explosions took place in Mumbai in 1993, targeting conspicuous buildings like the Stock Exchange and the Air India Building. These bombings were executed by a
281 PLANETARY OR COSMIC? Mumbai criminal gang that was connected to Pakistan and the Gulf and whose leaders moved to Dubai and Karachi after the blasts. An important aspect of trading in Mumbai is the so-called hawala system which is the unofficial transfer of money by money-carriers. Much of the trade, especially in gold, silver, and diamonds, is supported by this form of indigenous person-to-person banking, and Muslim traders have privileged access to the Muslim hinterland. Obviously, organized crime is part of this world of trade connections, but is not synonymous with it. Wealthy Muslim trader groups 23.2 The crowd of Bohras during Muharram. Bendhi Bazaar, Mumbai, December 2010. Source: Reza Masoudi Nejad. like the Bohras and the Khojas, are also connected to the Middle East and Africa. Other trading groups like Gujarati Hindus or Jains, especially prominent in the diamond trade, as well as Parsis, originally prominent in the lucrative opium trade with China, but currently the largest private land owners in Mumbai, have partly overlapping networks that are both religious and economic. This goes to say that Mumbai can be seen as a site that connects several spatial and religious imaginaries that are ritually expressed in the staging of the Muharram and Ganapati processions.