Tragedy of Karbala takes centre stage

New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) With the onset of the Islamic New Year, Shia Muslims across the world commemorate the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein in the battle of Karbala which took place nearly 1,400 years ago.

The rich variety of these traditions provide a window into the diversity of Islamic religious expression.

One such congregation, Expressions of Muharram, was performed by members of a family from Mustafabad in the heart of the Awadh region on Tuesday at the India International Centre (IIC) in the national capital.

The performance was an intimate affair, almost as if the singers had welcomed the audience into their own homes.

With the “Tragedy of Karbala” taking centre stage,the musical evening began with a Salaam, a salutation to the martyrs (of Karbala) and continued with presentation of Soz (sorrow), Marsiya (lamentation for a departed soul) and Noha (Elegy depicting Hussein’s killing).

The performers not only got appreciation from the audiences for their Urdu, Awadhi and Farsi poetry but also for the original style as it had emerged in the Ganga-Jamuna soil of Awadh.

The audience was taken on a musical journey while being informed and educated about the battle fought in the year 680 AD by a group of 72 men, women and children in the harsh terrain of Karbala. It told the story through a wealth of ragas and poetry about Muharram and why the month is so commemorated.

Well-known television commentator and poet Saeed Naqvi enthralled the audience with the Marsiyas of Mir Babar Ali Anis and Mirza Salaamat Ali Dabeer. During his one hour of marsiya recitation, he shed light on the various incidents which took place during the battle of Karbala.

Describing the martyrdom of Hussein, he quoted a couplet from Anis’s marsiyas: “Rotey thay Shaah lasho mein tanha khade huwe; Thay khaak par kaleje ke tukde padey huwe (Hussein was crying alone amidst the bodies of his loved ones covered with dust).”

He also highlighted the 7th day of Muharram which recalls how Yazid’s army sealed access to the river and prevented Hussein from drinking the water.

The night ended with the Noha bringing tears to the eyes of everyone in the audience when they learnt about the daughter, Sakina, who lost her father, Hussein, and six-month-old brother Ali Asghar.

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