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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Dazzling Muharram March with Swords and Fire in Bengal

IndiaDazzling Muharram March with Swords and Fire in Bengal

Standing at the edge of a busy street corner on Saturday evening, the fascinating Muḥarram sword-fire march was a sight to see.

Hundreds of people crowded on the streets to watch the solemn dance with sticks and swords and spitting swirling bursts of fire to the tune of drumbeats and music played by a band.   It was intriguing to note that the dancers were so skillful that they did not burn or hurt themselves with swords and fire.

The air was filled with joy, exuberance, and goodwill. Vehicles stopped, cars inched in slowly or stopped and peace prevailed in the air.

“Tazia” The Miniature Replica of the Tomb of Imam Hussain

The crowd loved every movement of the performers.  Towards the end of the procession, men holding Muslim green flags walked behind and then a glowing Tazia or tomb of Imam Hussain lit up with lights drawn grandly in a truck with Mullahs sitting alongside and others walking beside the mosque.

The Tazia” took center stage – which is a miniature replica of the sacred tomb of Imam Hussain, symbolizing a poignant reminder of his sacrifice and teachings.

Numerous Tazias graced the scene, with both young and elderly participants exhibiting their skillful arts expertise. The passionate drummers added a rhythmic beat, while spirited youths chanted “Hussain” in perfect harmony. The crowd was enthralled as the artists showcased their animated and energetic performances with fire and sticks, captivating every onlooker.

Fire Performance with Swords – Both Joyous and Mourning

The performance was sorrowful and joyous, all in one.  It is mournful because they killed the grandchildren of Prophet Muhammad, joyous because they were on the right path and were martyred.

The performers showcased their skills with sticks and swords, their movements precise and enthralling. The inclusion of fire added a captivating element to the spectacle, with performers skillfully spitting and swirling fire, creating an atmosphere of wonder. The crowd was entranced by the dazzling performance.

Maintaining their rhythmic cadence through claps, the dancers skillfully express their emotions during the performance, using various facial expressions and postures to convey grief or joy. The auspicious beginning of the dance coincides with the sighting of the moon during Muharram.

This dance tradition holds great significance as part of the cultural heritage of Bengali Muslims as they express themselves wholeheartedly during Muharram.

Hundreds of people crowded on the streets to watch the solemn dance with sticks and swords and spitting swirling bursts of fire to the tune of drumbeats and music, a part of grieving and joy for Muharram. On one hand, sorrow for the murder of the grandchildren of Prophet Muhammad but on the other hand, joy, because they were on the right path when martyred.

 

The Tazia” took center stage – which is a miniature replica of the sacred tomb of Imam Hussain, symbolizing a poignant reminder of his sacrifice and teachings.

 

Muḥarram

Muḥarram is the initial month of the Islamic calendar, considered one of the four sacred months when warfare is prohibited. After Ramadan, it is regarded as the second holiest month.

The tenth day of Muḥarram, known as the Day of Ashura, holds special significance for both Shia and Sunni Muslims. On this solemn occasion, Shia Muslims mourn the tragedy of Ḥusayn ibn Alī and his family. For both Sunni and Shia, Ḥusayn’s suffering and martyrdom symbolize sacrifice in the struggle for righteousness against wrong, and for justice and truth against injustice and falsehood.

During Ashura, Shias refrain from joyous events and instead participate in commemorative gatherings to offer condolences to Imam Husayn and honor the martyrs through prayers, supplications, and charity events. Some choose to eat sparingly, although this is distinct from fasting. Certain individuals, excluding children, the elderly, or the sick, refrain from eating or drinking until afternoon (zawal) as a sign of mourning for Husayn. It is a symbolic gesture of remembrance and solidarity with the sufferings endured by Imam Husayn and his companions. Moreover, there exists a significant ziyarat book, the Ziyarat Ashura, focused on Ḥusayn, which Shiʿism followers often read on this date.

Muharram and Ashura hold deep significance in Islamic observance and remembrance.

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