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Monday, January 14, 2008

Hindu family taking out Tazia for 130 years: Muharram in India [Communal Harmony Project-5]

For 130 years a Hindu family in Central India's small town Guna has been observing Muharram with devotion. The 15-ft tall Tazia is made every year in the Kushwaha household.

The whole family works together for days before Moharram. Says Kailash Singh Kushwaha, "We are farmers but stop all work before Muharram and during the ten days of Ashura, every family member intensely observes Gham-e-Husain.

For two months I have been busy in making the Tazia, which is famous for the fine work, naqqashi and artistry. The family members take bath before coming to the rom where the Taziya is kept.

'Over 130 years ago his ancestor Nihal Singh Kushwaha who was childless had vowed that he would bring out Tazia from his house if God gave him a child, and once he had the son, the tradition started, which continues till this day'.

In 1947 Guna was affected by the violence during partition and he was asked not to take out Tazia by a group, but the family members including Kailash's ancestor Bhabhoot Singh held swords in their hands along with the Tazia and carried on the tradition.

That's the kind of stories that are spread across this nation but don't get reported. These are the people who are in abundance in India. They may not have heard words like secularism but it is they whose lives are examples of communal harmony. It is due to them and their message to the people around them that this society maintains its sanity even in turbulent times.

Most of those including my own friends who love to call Tazia-dari as 'bidah', can't probably fathom the depth of their devotion towards the tragedy at Karbala that happened more than a millennium ago.
As far as I know, Shias don't take out Tazias (they have Alams and perform maatam).

Some Sunnis did. Stilll a few Sunnis, most of them poor ones, carry on the tradition. But the zeal of Hindu familes like the Kushwahas and the thousands of others in this country depict in the true sense, the composite culture of India, for which we are always claimants but ourselves do little to enrich or protect it.

Hats off to the Kushwahas.

Also, see my past posts with some good photos on Muharram:

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