The ta'ziyahs being taken to the river for immersion on the last day of the Muhurram Festival, escorted by sepoys
Watercolour of the Muharram Festival, by an anonymous artist working in the Murshidabad style, c. 1790-1800. Inscribed on the back in pencil: 'The procession of the Tuzziers'; in ink: 'at the Mohorrum. Procession of Tazzies on the last day of the Mohorrum Festival. Mahomedan Festival.'
The Muharram festival commemorates the popular saint Imam Husain, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson and the spiritual leader of the Shias who was martyred in 680 AD after a battle in Karbala. This festival starts on the 1st day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, and lasts for 10 days. It is celebrated with lavishly decorated tazivas (bamboo and paper replicas of the martyr’s tomb) which are carried through the streets of the city. Mourners beat their breasts accompanied by musicians, dancers and wrestlers who enact scenes depicting the battle. In this drawing, the tazivas are being taken to the river for immersion on the last day of the festival, escorted by sepoys. One is being carried on an elephant; others are on poles supported on men's shoulders while a frenzied crowd dances around. The river, woods and hills can be seen beyond.