In this bustling metropolis of Pakistan, tazias made by Hindus in the courtyards of Hindu temples are a prominent part of the Ashura procession taken out on the ninth and 10th days of Muharram to remember the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his people in Karbala.
In at least two ancient Hindu temples in the old city area of Karachi, the Hindu community has worked with zeal and passion to make tazias, which are a representation of the tombs of Hazrat Imam Hussain and Hazrat Imam Hasan, the grandsons of Prophet Muhammad, and are an integral part of the Ashura procession.
“We have been making these tazias for three generations now and it is something we feel proud and passionate about,” Rajesh, a Hindu, said in the Hindu-dominated Narainpura area of Karachi.
Rajesh worked day and night in the backyard of the Rama Pir temple with other Hindu youngsters to make the “Dhun Jee Sain” tazia with money collected from donations.
A few miles away on Akbar Road, members of the Hindu community have worked in the courtyard of the 100-year-old Mari Mata temple to prepare an imposing tazia, which will be used in the 10th Muharram procession on Ashura.
“This is known as the Mai Jannat taziya. Our elders have been making it at this very spot since even before partition,” Gond Saleem said.
Gond, who practises Hinduism after his Hindu father who married a Muslim woman, is an autorickhsaw driver. He devotes a month to make the taziya every year.
“My mother, Mehmooda, also made it a point to see that the Mai Jannat taziya was prepared every year for Ashura till her death last year,” he said, adding, “We carry on our elders’ wishes.” An area in the courtyard of the ancient temple is reserved every year for the making of the tazia.
“It takes at least 40 days to complete this tazia at a cost of around one lakh rupees,” Gond said.
He added that stickers, shiny vault paper and wood were used to make the tazia.
Jagnath, a Hindu living in the same area, said their elders living in Karachi had always shown respect towards the great sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Hussain and that they were doing the same.
“When these tazias are prepared near our temple, everyone in our community takes part and helps out. It is a big occasion for us every Ashura,” he added.
The reverence and dedication with which the Hindus make the tazias is a matter of surprise since their living conditions may not even include the basic facilities.
Muharram, which is the first month of the Islamic calendar, is observed with great reverence and solemnity by Muslims with tazia processions taken out to remember the sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his people.
In Karachi, like every year, thousands of policemen and paramilitary personnel have been deployed to look after the security of the Ashura processions.
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