Introduction to the Muharram in Kerala
In a country like India where people belonging to several religious faiths live in harmony, the festivals associated with the religions are also celebrated with ceremonial elegance and splendor. However Muharram is one such festival in which the celebrations are not marked by a great deal of joy and elation. This is because it is held to commemorate the death of Hussein.
History of the Muharram in Kerala
Muharram is a festival that is held in remembrance of Immam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad. In the year 680 A.D. Hussein and his followers were killed at Karbala on this very day. Their display of courage is eulogized to this day. It is in memory of their extremely painful death that Muslims celebrate Muharram.
Description of the Muharram in Kerala
Taziyas (Impressively decorated replicas of the Martyr's Tomb) are taken out in processions on the occasion of Muharram in Kerala. The air reverberates with the sounds of the beating of drums and the mournful cries of the followers lamenting the death of Hussein. One can also witness scenes from the Karbala battlefield being enacted in this procession. Many wrestlers inflict wounds on themselves and many people are seen beating their breasts and taking the name of Hussein.
Fasting is a customary observance that is religiously followed by the Muslims on the day of Muharram. The Shia Muslims follow this ritual even more rigidly.
The most unique feature of the celebrations of Muharram in Kerala is the "Pulikali" or Tiger Dance. The Muslims of Kerala paint their bodies and wear masks so that they resemble tigers. It is not just their guise which is akin to that of a tiger, their gestures and body movements are also similar to that of a tiger. Tiger stands for guts and courage. Their purpose of imitating a tiger is to show that Hussein's valor can be comparable to that of a tiger.
Religious Leaders enlighten the people on the events of Karbala in the gatherings that are held on the occasion of Muharram.
Time for celebrating the Muharram in Kerala
Muharram is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Muharram. It corresponds to the month of May according to the Gregorian calendar.
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