participate in Muharram
21 Jan 2008, 0355 hrs IST,Faizan Ahmad,TNN
MUZAFFARPUR: On the tenth day of Muharram, the first month
of Islamic calendar, Shia Muslims across the world spend the day in mourning to
commemorate the 1327-year-old martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain, his family and
followers. Here on Sunday, a group of Hindus participated in the Muharram
procession with equal veneration.
They claim their lineage to Hussaini Brahmin sect. And, from this year, they
have revived their centuries-old tradition of shedding tears in the memory of
the martyrs of Karbala -- which their ancestors used to do. Mostly Bhumihars,
the group marched barefoot from Bara Imambara in Brahampur locality here
beating their chest and chanting "Ya Hussain".
They also carried a banner proclaiming their sentiments towards the Imam and
his martyrdom. "Our ancestors also fought in support of Imam Hussain and
sacrificed their lives in Karbala and we are equally pained at the historical
martyrdom," said Bhumihar Brahmin Mahasabha convenor Arun Kumar Sharma.
References in several books and records confirm that some Hindus did join Imam
Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, when he was through a bloody battle
against Yezid at Karbala (in Iraq) on October 10, 680 AD.
The sect, which was later named Hussaini Brahmin, had settled on the banks of
river Euphrates. Subsequently, they returned to India and assumed various
titles like Datts, Mohiyals, Tyagis and many others. They also practised an
intriguing blend of Islamic and Hindu traditions.
This was the first time in recent memory that the people claiming the lineage
joined the Muharram rituals in this part of the country. The late Sunil Dutt,
who belonged to Hussaini Brahmin sect, used to attend Muharram processions.
Asked why this practice remained discontinued for decades Sharma, a practising
lawyer, said: "We can say this was the fault of our fathers and
grandfathers who did not teach us about this aspect of our historical and
Marching in the procession ahead of the band of young Shia youths injuring
their chest and back with blades fixed to chains, small daggers or even razors,
Upendra Prasad Shahi said, "The battle of Karbala was a war to save
humanity and faith. We are proud that our ancestors, too, sacrificed their
Legend has it that Rahab Sidh Datt had fought on behalf of Imam Hussain in the
battle of Karbala, sacrificing his seven sons in the process. Rahab was the
leader of a small band of career-soldiers living near Baghdad at the time of
the battle of Karbala. In his novel "Karbala", Munshi Prem Chand
mentions about Hindus fighting for Imam Hussain and referred to them as
descendants of Ashwastthama, son of Dronacharya.
The Hussaini Brahmin sect is today a rapidly vanishing community. The younger
generation of the clan are said to be abandoning their ancestral heritage, some
seeing it as embarrassingly deviant. "We should, rather, feel proud of
this tradition," said Sharma who has painstakingly pursued his caste
people to help revive this heritage. "Before the advent of Islam, we had
blood relations with the people of the Arab world," Sharma claimed.