- The Indian Adaptations
NEW DELHI: On Muharram, which fell
on March 25 this year, Muslims of India joined
other faithfuls in the rest of the world to
mourn and pay homage to Hasan and Husain,
who became martyrs hundreds of years ago (680
AD) in Karbala desert in Arabia. The story
of their tragic martyrdom is well-known throughout
The day is calculated in Islamic calendar
based on lunar months, starting with Muharram.
Indian Muslims have been observing the day
from the time Islam came to this sub-continent.
Certain traditions have taken roots over the
years under the influence of indigenous culture.
A special feature is the tazia procession
taken out on Muharram day in all Muslim-dominated
Tazia was a fabrication by Timur on the pattern
of the Indian chariot called rath; and, thereafter
Sufi saints made their own contributions by
mixing various rituals of Islam and Hinduism.
Ever since, Muharram has advanced the cause
of peaceful co-existence.
A tazia is a replica of the mausoleum dedicated
to the two martyrs. These are made of bamboo
sticks, coloured paper and fabric. (There
is a resemblance of effigies burnt on Dussehra
although tazia is buried.) Devoted Muslims
take them out in a procession and whip-lash
themselves in a symbolic act of self-punishment
as they cry out in pain, "Hai Hasan, Hai Husain".
(marsia) of their martyrdom are sung by emotionally-charged
singers in the evening. Listeners often break
down as the whole story of their tragic death
is narrated in a soulful manner.
March 29, 2002