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Tazia


Tazia the replica of the tomb of Imam Hossain (R), grandson of Hazrat muhammad (Sm) and the martyr in the War of Karbala. Tazia is an arabic word meaning 'to mourn' or to 'show condolence'. In special sense, it is the observance of a number of mourning days in memory of the tragic event in which Hazrat Imam Hossain (R) became a shahid (martyr). The Shi'ite Muslims mourn during the first ten days of Muharram and on the 10th day (ashura) they bring out a procession with the tazia, the replica of the tomb of Imam Hossain (R), who was killed on that date.

The Shi'ite faith had its origin in Iraq and Iran, but the mourning procession does not carry tazias there. It is not known when exactly the tazia procession had become a ritual in the subcontinent. During the Mughal period, especially when Shah Shuja was the subadar (governor) of Bengal (1639-1659), the influence of the Shi'ites had considerably increased in this region. Possibly, it was during this period when the Tazia procession was introduced here. During the period of Emperor Akbar tazia processions came out from the Agra Fort.

Syed Mir Murad constructed the historic husaini dalan in 1052 of the Hegira calendar (1642 AD) during the time of Shah Shuja. Most Nayeb Nazims of Dhaka of that period belonged to the Shi'ite community. They built imambaras at various places of the country. Imambaras still exist in Dhaka, Manikganj, Kishoreganj, Ashtagram, Syedpur, Sylhet and some other places.

A major characteristic feature of the tazia procession is the carrying of the replica of the tomb of Hazrat Hossain (R). The replica is made of wood, paper, gold silver or marble stone. The tazia preserved at the Husaini Dalan of Dhaka was donated by Nawab Salimullah and it was made of material covered with wood and silver. Mourners in the tazia procession loudly express their grief and they beat their chests by hand or strike on their backs by iron chains.

In the front of the tazia procession, a group of persons carry the alam (the standard or main element). They are followed by a band of drummers. Next to them proceed some people who carry sticks and swords, which they whip in the air over their heads. They are accompanied by some cavaliers along with two palanquins, and they also express their grief. Then follows a group of singers singing elegy. Finally, at the end a group of mourners carry the tazia. The procession ends at a predetermined place. [Mohammad Abdur Rahman Anwari]