Hosay Festival

Hosay Festival

10th day of Islamic month of Muharram
To Muslims in the Eastern Hemisphere, the Hussein Festival is a solemn occasion commemorating the massacre of Hussein and his brother Hassan, grandsons of the prophet Muhammad, on the 10th day of the month of Muharram in 680 ( see Ashura). But in Trinidad and Tobago, where the Hosay (or Hussein) Festival was first celebrated in 1884, the traditional procession of mourning has been mixed with various European, African, and Indian rituals to form a unique celebration.
The most popular processions are held in the towns of St. James, Curepe, Tunapuna, Couva, and Cedros. The festival usually begins the evening of Muharram 9 with a solemn procession of flags symbolizing the beginning of the battle of Kerbela, in which Hussein and Hassan were killed. On the second day dancers wearing tadjahs —small minaretted tombs made of bamboo, colored tissue, tinfoil, crepe paper, mirrors, and coconut leis—parade through the streets to the accompaniment of African drummers in a ritual that is reminiscent of Carnival ( see Trinidad and Tobago Carnival).
The highlight of the festival occurs on the third night, when the large tadjahs, some of which are six feet tall, are carried through the streets. There are also two moons, representing Hussein and his brother, carried by specially trained dancers. These large crescent-shaped structures are studded with sharp blades and carried on the dancers' shoulders. At midnight, the two moons engage in a ritual embrace to a chorus of cheers from the onlookers.
CONTACTS:
Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Development Authority
National Library Bldg., Hart and Abercromby St.
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
868-623-6962; fax: 868-625-6096
www.nalis.gov.tt
SOURCES:
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 435