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21. 02. 2018
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MUHARRAM FESTIVALS

A Muslim festival of mourning, Muharram is observed in the first month of the Hijri year. The Shia community in particular celebrates it with great fervour and enthusiasm. Muslims, in general, observe fast, offer prayers, recite 'fatihas' and sing elegies in homage to the martyrs during the celebrations. On the final day, Tajias are taken out in grand processions, accompanied by brass bands and bagpipes playing sad tunes and beating the big drums that add to the solemnity of the occasion. The Tajias represent the mausoleum of Hazarat Imam Hussain. The processions terminate at Karbala, where the Tajias are ceremonially buried. The 'alam' or standard of Imam Hussain is also carried in the procession.

While taking the Tajia the devotees chant the following verse :

"Hai Hussain hum na huye ! Makri meri mausi jisne jaala taana Girgit mera Dushman jisne pata bataayaa, Hai Hussain hum na huye !!

[The verse refers about a heart rending incident that took place long ago in the maiden of Karbala. When left alone and severely wounded the Imam (Hussain) hid himself in a blind well to escape the onslaught of his enemies, a makri (spider) quickly wove its web to indicate no body was inside the well, for had someone entered the well, the web must have been broken ! When the enemies approached there in the search of Hussain, a girgit (Chameleon) moving on the peripheri of the well moved its head in the affirmative to indicate Hussain hiding there. Hence the worse which literally means : 'how sad Hussain ! We were not there to help you ! The spider is as good as my mother's sister (mausi) which had woven the web to hide your presence. But my enemy, girgit, came there to reveal your presence. How sad O Hussain ! We were not there to help you !]

On the way people beat themselves cruelly in the memory of Hussain as much as to make their body ooze blood from the wounds they inflict upon themselves. While moving ahead the Tajias are offered incense etc. The Tajia procession makes periodic halts and different groups perform acrobatics and enact the battle scenes of Karbala. The mourners beat their breasts in mourning to the tune of beating drums and cries : "Hai Hussain !" The sad celebration called 'Majlis-e-Shoora' which is observed with great passion at places like Lucknow, the strongholds of Shia community as also at Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, etc. There, at very grand scale the processions are taken out. Hazrat Hussain was the second son of Fatimah, the Prophet Mohammad's daughter. He was brutally murdered with his whole family by the wicked, evil souled Yazid at Karbala in Mecca. Imam Hussain died in the battle eventually while fighting bravely.

After the burial or immersion of the Tajiah or Tajias at Karbala, the devotees return home, break their fast and give food, clothes, money, etc. to the poor and needy, and sick in charity. They observe this day of Martyrdom in peace and silence. It is believed that Taimur lung introduced the Tajias in India.

Moharram is, in fact, a sort of ceremony showing gratitude to the departed souls who fought so bravely for preserving their faith. Not many, faiths have such a heart-rending and touching ceremony. Showing so much emphathy with those that sacrificed their life for upholding the faith and not bowing before the wicked forces, Muharram is a festival of feeling and gratitude. The inherent moral in this festival is that one should never forget those who sacrificed their life for the good of all and who held their faith dearer than their own lives.

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