Tazia genre: a dominant symbol of ‘victory over evil’

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Tazia genre: a dominant symbol of ‘victory over evil’

Dr.Saeed Ahmed Ali

LAHORE, Aug 28 (APP):The golden saying of Hazrat Ali Bin Abi Talib (RA), the fourth caliph of Islam, reads “a society can survive with infidelity (kufr), but not with injustice”.

In the Holy Quran, Allah admonishes people by showing them the true and right path. The  Holy Quran is the sole resource of humanity that calls and leads people to the correct knowledge of Allah, the values of Islam, how to live in a way that pleases Allah, and a concise criterion that distinguishes the right from the wrong.

For this reason, one of the Holy Quran’s names is “Furqan”- one that discriminates the right from the wrong.

With the arrival of Muharram, the Shia Muslims mourn the martyrdom of the Prophet’s (PBUH) grandson, Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), his family and the companions by taking out tazia (model of Imam’s shrine), Alam and Zuljinah processions.

Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) was martyred in a brutal massacre on the plains of Karbala in the year 680 AD) by the then ruling Yazid forces.Imam Hussain (RA) had refused to pledge allegiance to Yazid which resulted in the tragedy of Karbala.

Since then, to commemorate the great sacrifice of Imam Hassan (RA) and his companions, these mourning processions were being taken out in many parts of the world, during the first ten days of the holy month of Muharram.

The tazia is a replica of the shrine of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), and describing its anatomy, the takht (base of tazia) is the first artifact (piece) to be carried out on day one, followed by the palanquin and finally, the Jhoola.

The tazia is then reconstructed on the tenth day called Yum-e- Ashur.

Pakistan is not only a very large country in terms of area, but it is remarkable for the diversity of languages, cultures and multi-religiosity that flourish here. It is also a country with a rich aesthetic tradition as evidenced by our local crafts.

Tazias are displayed in the mourning processions, and are mostly manufactured in Chiniot,Multan, Faisalabad, Lahore and Rawalpindi. Among these, the famous tazias are of Chiniot and Multan.

‘Taziyadari ‘ is a central part of the Muharram mourning tradition in all parts of the country, which is taken out to show respect and to mark Imam Hussain’s(RA) martyrdom every year on the 10th of Muharram.

As a tazia manufacturing market, Multan and Chiniot are most famous and are the most ancient and historical cities of Pakistan. In Chiniot people are adept in wood-craft and architectural marvels.

The oldest tazia tradition in the subcontinent, Multan leads the tradition among Lahore, Rawalpindi Chiniot and Faisalabad. The tazias constructed in Multan are considered to be the tallest and masterpiece handcraft in the whole of the sub-continent.

Talking to APP, Shahzeb Hassan, the license holder of the famous Ustaad Wala Tazia in Multan said that more than 112 tazia processions were taken out on the 10th of Muharram in Multan every year.

‘Ustaad Wala Tazia’ was crafted by Ustaad Pir Bukhsh, who started work on it in 1810 and completed its structure in 25 years, in 1825. Hassan said that Teak wood was used in the structure and the whole thing was built without the use of even a single nail anywhere.

“It takes at least seven hours to reach its final destination on Shah Risal road on the 10 th  of Muharram after travelling a distance of 2.5 kilometres,” Hassan informed.

It is worth mentioning here that the Ustaad Wala Tazia leads all mourning processions in Multan whereas the ‘Shagird Wala Tazia’ follows it close behind , which symbolises a student’s respect to his teacher.

License holder of Shagird Wala Tazia, Muhammad Raees while giving the details about Shagird Wala Tazia, told APP that 32 feet high and having weight around 4,000 kilograms, and larger than the masterpiece  which was constructed by Salman Ali, one of Pir Bukhsh’s students in 1854.

To a question Raees said that it was burnt by extremists in 1944, however, it was quickly restored to its original shape with the financial help of the Gardezis of Afghanistan and the local nobles of the tribes.

“At least 200 people are required to carry the tazia on the 10th of Muharram.

We place it at the top of the ‘Khooni Burj’ for everyone to take a look at it easily,” Raees says.

Similarly another famous Sakhi Lal Shah Tazia in Multan is at least 248 years old, and is among the oldest tazia processions of South Punjab, which is taken out every year to commemorate the 10th of Muharram, claims Makhdoom Hassan Raza Mashhadi .

Raza, who is the current caretaker of Pir Syed Lal Shah Al-Mosvi Al Mashhadi shrine told APP that his forefather Pir Syed Lal Shah laid the foundation of the Safavi dynasty in Iran and was the founder of the tazia culture in the sub-continent.

“Our ancestors arrived in Multan in 1820 AD and established an Imambargah at the western bank of River Ravi, and he is considered as the founder of the mourning tradition in the sub-continent’ he says.

Likewise in Chiniot ‘Umar Hayat Mahal Palace’ depicts a tremendous art and architecture skill of the expertise of local community, which is also known as the “Taj Mahal of Chiniot”. 

Although the art of making tazias has become a commercial profession, a great deal of history remains embedded therein, says Ali Hassan Pirjah a member of Pirjah family in Chiniot while talking to APP.

It may be mentioned here that Chinioti tazia art master Ilahi Bakhsh, had commissioned the decorating of a portion of the Buckingham Palace. Bakhsh’s grandson Akhtar Pirjah, has also been requested by various royal Arab states to construct the wooden interior structures of their family mansions.

He said that the nine famous tazias of Chiniot namely Peer Shadi Malang, Charrhoyan, Kamangaran, Masharqi Thathi. Magarbi Thathi, Koobay Shah. Qazian, Qasayan and Aali were precious not only in terms of cost but were considered masterpieces of art, and were carefully dismantled and stored for the following year, Hassan informed.

“Akhtar Pirjah has earned a rich appreciation and identity in Tazia art works with the serenity of being known, globally, he has done justice to preserving the legacy of his family, “ concludes Hassan.

One of the more interesting tazias in Pakistan is Buraq Wala Tazia in Hyderabad. The name of tazia is termed behind the name of ‘Buraq’ horse that carried the holy prophet (PBUH) to the heavens. This is the only tazia in the country that incorporates a human face in it.