Muharram is another festival celebrated
by Muslims on the 10th day of Muharram the forbidden month, which
marks the beginning of the Hijra year.
It was on this day that the most lamentable
carnage at Kerala took place in 680 AD when Imman Hussain, the
grandson of the Prophet and his men met with their end in an agonizing
Profusely decorated taziyas (bamboo and
paper replicas of the martyr's tomb), embellished with gilt and
mica are carried through city streets. Mourners beat their breasts
lamenting and grieving over the murder, accompanied by drum beats.
Wrestlers and dancers enact scenes depicting the battle at Kabala
and at each step young men beat their breasts crying "Hussain!
Hussain!" in collective sorrow.
On this day the Jews observe fast. The Prophet
enjoined on the Muslims to observe fast on the ninth and tenth of
Muharram. It was to commemorate the victory of the Jews over Pharaoh
that fasting was enjoined upon Muslims on these days.
For the Shia Muslims, Muharram is an important
occasion for religious ceremony. The Sunni Muslims do not celebrate
Muharram, but the devout Muslims among them observe fast.
`Pulikali' or `Tiger-dance' is part of this
celebration in Kerala. Some Muslims assume the guise of tiger by
painting their whole body to bring out the appearance of tiger,
wear masks and parade through streets, playing, dancing and mimicking
a tiger. This is done to idealize the valour of Hussain.