Muzaffarpur (Bihar): A group of upper caste Hindus joined Shia Muslims here Sunday to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, saying it was part of their tradition.
The martyrdom of the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, his family and followers marks the 10th day of the month of Moharram.
These Hindus in Muzaffarpur, about 70 km from Patna, belong to the Bhumihar Brahmin Mahasabha and claim their lineage as the Hussaini Brahmin sect.
"We also mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussain like Shia Muslims. It is part of a centuries-old tradition started by our ancestors," said Mahinder Singh, one of the dozens of Hindus who marched barefoot.
Like their Shia counterparts, they too beat their chests, constantly chanting `Hussain, Hussain, Ya Hussain!`
Another Hindu, Shyam Kumar Sharma, who also participated in the Muharram procession, said he was proud to mourn the martyrdom of Hussain, whom he described as "a hero of humanity".
"It is a historical fact that our ancestors joined Hussain when he was fighting against Yezid at Karbala," Sharma told IANS.
"We are following an ancestral tradition," he said.
Singh said according to historical records, Hussaini Brahmins had settled on the banks of the Euphrates river after the battle of Karbala. Later they moved to India.
In the preface to his novel titled Karbala, published in 1924 from Lucknow, Munshi Prem Chand stated that Hindus who died in the Karbala war were believed to be descendants of Ashvathama.
Elsewhere in Bihar too, dozens of Hindu families observed Moharram and took out a `tazia` (replica of Hussain`s shrine) in a procession.