Muslims of every sect are solemnly observing Moharram, which reminisces of the great sacrifice of Shaheed-e-Azam Hazrat Imam Hussain. The rituals will culminate on Tuesday. Like every year a grand rally would be taken out on the 10th day of the month which will include Alams, Tazias and Sawaris. Main attractions would be large Tazias of Mangalwara and Budhwara. It would be for the first time that Tazias and Alams would be immersed in the Lower Lake instead of Karbala Ghat on the banks of Upper Lake. However, for completing religious rituals Tazias would be first taken to Karbala.
The Tazias (replica shrine of Imam Hussain) are being taken out in Bhopal from the era of Begums. At those times both ruler and ruled, Hindus and Muslims paid their respect and tributes to the martyrs of Karbala. part from its religious importance, month of Moharram has its own significance for Bhopali culture. The famous Gutkha of Bhopal came into existence during this mourning month. Raja of Islam Nagar Vijay Ram also had a Tazia prepared. Besides making Tazias and holding Majlis several other acts of philanthropy are undertaken. They include offering water and Sharbat, feeding poor and have-nots and distributing alms. Mahmood Sikandar, who is great devotee of Imam Hussain has been taking out his Tazia for the last 50 years. He told that in Bhopal Tazias are made of Bamboo sticks and papers of various kinds.
That is why Tazias are lightweight and can be lifted and carried by a few persons. They are eco-friendly as they degrade in water sometime after the submersion. Tazias were mostly submerged in the Upper Lake on the banks of Karbala. But many people lay them to rest in the soil. The biggest and oldest Tazia of Bhopal is that of Mangalwara eunuchs. The Tazia of courtesan Nanhi Bai, which had silver coating, was also a major attraction. But when Nanhi Bai moved to Bombay (Now Mumbai) she took her Tazia away with her. During the battle with Marathas of Gwalior and Nagpur between 1808 to 1812, the condition of people became so bad that they had to eat stones of Tamarind (Imli) and roasted leaves. That battle had started in the month of Moharram and ended in the same month many years later and Bhopal emerged victorious. Though the battle was over but the people of Bhopal did not stop taking Gutkha. Instead they made certain modifications to make the Gutkha tasty. Now Gutkha was prepared with cut beetle nuts and other ingredients. The famous Zari Batua (pouch) also came into existence to keep and carry Gutkha. In Olden times, special Gutkha was prepared for Moharram.
Another very interesting episode is associated with Moharram in Bhopal. In the era of Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum, two of his emirs Tabba Mian and Abba Mian, both brothers, got her permission to divert the route of Moharram procession and Tazias through near their house so that they could have maximum glimpses of it. This was vehemently opposed by the masses. That year the situation became so tense that Tabba Main and Abba Mian could not move out of their houses to watch Tazia procession. The next year Tabba mian added several stories to his house so that he could watch Tazias from there. At that time the palace-like building became the tallest one in the city. The palace still lies in dilapidated condition near Peer Gate.