Muharram is not a festival in the celebratory sense as it mourns the Karbala tragedy when Imam Husain, grandson of Prophet Muhammad, was martyred. It is observed in different ways in various parts of India. Profusely decorated Maziya’s, which are bamboo and paper replicas of the martyr’s tomb, decorated with gilt and mica are carried through city streets. Mourners beat their chests lamenting and grieving over the murder. There are drummers who accompany the mourners. Wrestlers and dancers enact scenes depicting the battle at Karbala and with each step, young men beat their chests crying “Husain! Husain!”
This tribute to martyrdom is observed with great passion in Lucknow, in particular. This is because Lucknow is the center of Shia culture and religious activity. A large number of taziyas and the alarms – flags of Hazrat Imam Husain’s army are taken out all over the city. In places other than Lucknow, the Maziya are taken out and buried in the local burial ground known as the Karbala.