Muharram: Muslim Festival of Mourning

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Muharram is a Muslim festival of mourning observed in the first month of the Hijri Year. The Shia community in Particular celebrate it with great fervor 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 of big drums that add to the solemnity of the occasion.


The Tajias represent the Mausoleum of Hazrat Imam Hussain. The procession terminates at Karbala, where the Tajias are ceremonially buried. The alam or standard of Imam Hussain is also carried in the procession.

On the way Tajias are offered incense, etc., as the procession make periodic halts and different group perform acrobatics, and battle scenes of Karbala are enacted by the people. The mourners also beat their breasts in mourning to the tune of the beating drums and cries “Hai Hussain!”

Self flagellation and bloodshed on Muharram in India

The sad celebration is observed with great passion at places like Lucknow, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, and big mourning processions are taken out. Hazrat Imam Hussain was the second son of Fatimah, the prophet’s daughter. He was brutally murdered along with his whole family by evil-souled Yazid at Karbala in Mecca. Imam Hussain died fighting bravely.

After the burial or immersion of Tajias at Karbala, the devotees return home, break their fast and give food, clothes, money, etc., to the poor, needy and sick in charity. In foreign countries Tajia’s are not taken out in procession. They observe this day of Martyrdom in peace and silence. It is believed that Taimur Lang introduced the Tajias in India.

Mourning of Muharram:

The word Ashura means 10, and the holiday is the tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. For Shi’ite Muslims, those ten days are a period of mourning and remembrance, where they commemorate the death of Hussein ibn Ali (Hazrat Imam Hussain), the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

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