The festival commemorates the martyrdom
of the prophet Mohammed's grandson- Hazrat Imam Hussein.
It is celebrated with great fervour by the Muslims especially
the Shia community. Tazias, glittering replicas of the
Martyr's tomb, are carried in procession through the
streets. The Tazias of Lucknow and Hyderabad are noted
for their splendour. In places like Lucknow, Delhi,
Agra and Jaipur, grand scale processions are held. People
beat their chest in mourning to the tune of beating
drums and chants 'Ya Hussain'. Devotees beat themselves
and inflict wounds on their own bodies.
This festival starts at the 1st day of Muharram and
lasts for 10 days until 10th of Muharram. Muharram is
the first month of Islamic calendar.
||During this month, while on a journey,
Hazrat Imam Hussain, his family members and a number
of his followers were surrounded by the forces of
Yazid, the Muslim ruler of the time. During the
siege, they were deprived of food and water and
many of them were put to death. The incident happened
at a place called Karbala in Iraq in 61st year after
Hijra. This dispute was result of a disagreement
among Muslims on the question of succession after
the demise of Hazrat Ali, the fourth caliph.
Some sects of Muslims hold meetings where
speeches are made on the happenings of Karbala and
on the lives of martyrs. The Shias, however, observe
this festival in a different fashion. As Muharram,
the first month of the Muslim year, approaches,
they put on black clothes, as black is regarded
as a colour of mourning. Majalis (assemblies) are
held every day during the first nine days where
Shia orators relate the incident of the martyrdom
of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his party in a great
On the 10th day of Muharram, large processions are
formed and the devoted followers parade the streets
holding banners and carrying models of the mausoleum
of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his people, who fell at Karbala.
They show their grief and sorrow by inflicting wounds
on their own bodies with sharp metal tied to chain with
which they scourge themselves. This is done in order
to depict the sufferings of the martyrs. It is a sad
occasion and everyone in the procession chants "Ya
Hussain", with loud wails of lamentation. Generally
a white horse beautifully decorated for the occasion,
is also included in the procession, to mark the empty
mount of Hazrat Imam Husain after his martyrdom.
During these first ten days of Muharram, drinking posts
are also set up temporarily by the Shia community where
water and juices are served to all, free of charge.