A Tazia is usually a statue, created in the image of the shrine of Imam Hussain (a.s). It is presented in the Muhurram procession where thousands of devotees come and visit it.
It is made of different items ranging from wood, bamboo, cloth, paper, stone, metal, ivory and even gold and silver.
Tazia can be seen during Muharrum processions where hundreds of devotees lift this heavy structure around the city throughout the course (route) of procession.
The history of Tazia in subcontinent can be traced back to 600 years. Amir Taimoor Lang started this tradition as he was said to be a strong devotee of Imam Hussain (a.s). It is said that due to his conquests, he was not able visit Karbala for a couple of years so he decided to make a structure in the image of Imam Hussain’s shrine.
The Tazia tradition spread in almost every part of subcontinent with no discrimination of caste, sect and even religion. Even Hindus and Sikhs made their own Tazia and used to march in muharram processions, showing their devotion to the sacrifice made by Imam Hussain (a.s). The Sultans of Awadh (Lucknow) and Hydrabad (Deccan) patronised this art and took it to new heights. The same was done in Mughal court as well.
Different people groups made different types of Tazias depending on their peculiar taste and recognition based on their caste and sometimes, profession.
In Pakistan, the city of Multan is known for one of the most beautiful and grand Tazia structures in the world. The tradition started around 250 years ago when the Tazia of the master (Ustad ka tazia) was made by Ustad Peer Baksh. It took about 16 years to make this magnificent structure.
Subsequently, his apprentice Ustad Ilahi Bakhsh made his own Tazia which was inspired by his mater’s design but was a bit larger than that. Since then, the Tazia tradition is very strong in Multan and now, around 135 Tazias are marched in Muhurram processions every year.
An interesting fact about this is that among those 135 Tazias, 123 are of the Sunni sect which shows that the love for Imam Hussain and the great sacrifice made by him is universal and that there is no discrimination of any kind when it comes to the show of devotion and love towards them.
Tazia making has become an art overtime which is run by many skilled craftsmen drenched in the love and devotion for Imam Hussain (a.s). They work on these Tazias for a whole year and then present them in Muharram processions for the devotees to visit.