There was a time, not long ago, when it was considered a heinous sin in Pakistan to enjoy oneself during the month of Muharram, particularly in the first ten days. Listening to music was out of the question, girls wouldn't put on lipstick or makeup and would be clothed only in black. Shias were not the only ones, even Sunnis would observe this month with solemnity. It was out of the question to buy a house or get married in this month. Most women would fast on the first ten days, some of them do so even today.

On the only TV channel in those days, lady announcers would be suitably draped in black, telecasting of dramas or advertisements was forbidden, and Radio Pakistan would stop broadcasting film songs or advertisements as these usually had music and women. Throughout the first ten days, the only programs on TV and radio were about the incident in Karbala about fourteen centuries ago. Shops and factories would be closed, and the mourning processions would prevent the needy and sick from getting to hospital on time. 

Once I asked my foreman (a Sunni) to work on the tenth of Muharram (known as Ashura). He was shocked. He said that those who went to work on this day would be consigned to hell along with their families. 

It was highly amusing as well as shocking to see the popular female announcer Rahat Saeed smiling brightly and saying "Assalam Alaikum" on the eleventh day of Muharram as if the Karbala incident had never taken place. I personally was glad that the mourning was confined to only those ten days.

We should be thankful that people (especially Sunnis) are no longer as sensitive or die-hard as they used to be. This year, shops were open on the tenth, TV channels continued with their TV serials and music could also be heard. For the first time, mobile phones worked without being blocked, and the internet was available throughout the day. Even marriage ceremonies take place in this month. It's good that people have changed so much.