In Trinidad during the 1880s the Muharram observances were referred to as taziya-dari (tadjah) or by the creole term ‘Hosay’, which is a distorted version of the name ‘Hussein’.
Hosay has its antecedents within Shi’ite Islam, and was originally brought by indentured workers from India who came to Trinidad to work on the sugar plantations during the indentureship period.
Muharram came to Trinidad and Tobago as an ‘Indian’ celebration (since both Muslims and Hindus participated) and evolved to include the wider community to become a ‘Trinidad’ observance.
The first noted observance of Hosay was in 1847 in the streets of San Fernando, in South Trinidad, and there is evidence of Hosay celebrations in Chaguanas and St. James from as far back as 1865.
Prior to the Muharram Massacre in 1884, Hosay celebrations was observed annually in the towns of Sangre Grande, Brazil/Talparo, Arouca, Tacarigua (Dinsley Village), Tunapuna, Curepe, San Juan, St. James, Cunupia, Chaguanas, Couva, Princes Town and Cedros.
History Of Muharram Or Hosay
Hosay is a commemorative event, a drama of passion, where significant events of Islamic history are narrated and commemorated over ten days. It is the commemoration of the Martyrdom of Hussein (Hussain), the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, his younger brother Janab Hazrat Abass (Hassan), and 70 other friends and relatives.
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar and is usually marked by fasting and prayer. In 679 AD, on the 10th day of the month of Muharram (known as Ahsura), Hussein, his family and companions were ambushed on the way to Kufa because he would not pledge allegiance to Yazid, the second son of Umayyad Caliph.
Shia Muslims, grieving at the circumstances of the slaughter of Hussein and his family, mourn their deaths for ten days annually during the month of Muharram. On the 10th day, Imam Hussein’s slaughter and final martyrdom is commemorated in a dramatic procession on the streets.
Source: Balkaransingh, Satnarine. “Speaking through Indo-Trinidadian Rituals and Festivals”/ PhD Thesis, University of Trinidad and Tobago, 1990-2009. As published on the NALIS website-http://www.nalis.gov.tt/Research/SubjectGuide/Hosay/tabid/565/Default.aspx