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Muharram

Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is one of the four sacred months of the Islamic calendar. Since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, Muharram moves from year to year when compared with the Gregorian calendar. Muharram is a month of memory that is often considered identical with the event of Ashura. Ashura, which literally means the "Tenth" in Arabic,refers to the tenth day of Muharram. It is well-known because of historical significance and mourning for the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad.

In Kerala this festival has its own significance. This festival is celebrated among the Muslims in all over the world as well as Kerala. Fasting is done among the Muslim groupings; mostly Shia Muslims stop eating and drinking during sunlight hours and do not eat until late afternoon. Sunni Muslims also fast during Muharram for the first ten days of Muharram, or just the tenth day, or on both the ninth and tenth days; the exact term depending person to person. Shia Muslims do so to imitate the sufferings of Hussein ibn Ali on the Day of Ashura.

In most parts of India including Kerala Taziyas are made which are decorated replicas of the Martyr’s (Hussein Ali’s Tomb) are taken out in processions on the occasion of Muharram.The air echoes with the sounds of the beating of drums and the mournful cries of the followers mournful the death of Hussein. One can also onlooker scenes from the Karbala battlefield being enacted in this procession. Many boxers inflict wounds on themselves and many people are seen beating their breasts and taking the name of Hussein. The most unique feature of the celebrations of Muharram in Kerala is the "Pulikali" or Tiger Dance. The Muslims of Kerala paint their bodies and wear masks so that they resemble tigers. It is not just their guise which is akin to that of a tiger, their gestures and body movements are also similar to that of a tiger.Tiger stands for guts and courage.Their purpose of imitating a tiger is to show that Hussein’s bravery can be comparable to that of a tiger.

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