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Hosay 2009 - Photos by Mark Lindersay
The Tadjah and Tassa of the Ghulam Hussain Imambara in the Big Hosay night procession, St. James, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. Photo by Mark Lindersay (c) Hosay 2009
Hosay ~ Tadjah and Tassa is an Indian street theater tradition originating in the north Indian city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, and brought to Trinidad in 1845 by East Indian indentured laborers whose descendents continue to practiced it in a cultural space that is uniquely Indo-Caribbean. Hosay is an elaborate commemorative event or 'passion play' associated with the martyrdom of Imam Hosain, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.
The most spectacular features of Hosay is the procession displaying the craftsmanship and decorative arts of large floats of martyrs, called Taziyas (Tajahs), which are pulled by trolleys through the streets led by ceremonial Tassa drumming. Following the procession, women singing the commemorative songs, "Marsiyas"; and Men, equipped with staffs/sticks (hakka) and matted shields (fenna), re-enact combat (gatka) of the Battle of Karbala.
Kitchrie 2011 will be a 2–day event making global links drawn from the history and allegories spanning from the ‘Battle of Karbala (Iraq) on October 10, 680 AD, to Moghul invasion of India from1526 when Hosay/Muharram was introduced in Uttar Pradesh, to the Hosay/Jahaji Massacre on the Streets of San Fernando, Trinidad on October 30, 1884.
The Remembrance of Imam Hosain was brought to the Caribbean by a small community Shia Muslim indentured labourers and other migrant laborers from India. Hindu and Muslim Indians, who emphasized their common culture and celebration over religion, namely from the provinces of Oudh and City of Lucknow, are essential to this story. These people entered Guyana in 1838, and Trinidad after 1845, from colonial India under British auspices (see Indo-Caribbean people). The first observance of Hosay in Trinidad has been traced back to 1854, eleven years after the first indentured laborers arrived from India.
In the 1880s the British colonial authorities became increasingly concerned about public gatherings, and iissued an ordinance in 1884 to prevent the public Hosay commemorations. See Hosay Martyrs of Trinidad