Hosay celebrations in St James came to an end last Tuesday evening. The name Hosay comes from “Husayn” (Hussain) who was assassinated by Yazid in Karbala. His martyrdom is commemorated in this festival, which was once, in T&T, as big as Carnival.
Locally, multi-coloured model mausoleums, or Mosque-shaped model tombs known as Tadjahs (Ta’zieh), are used to display the symbolic part of this commemoration.
They are built and paraded, to the rhythm and staccato of pulsating drumming, its musicians having to undergo a stringent spiritual cleansing at least a month before Hosay begins with Flag Night.
Generally, Hosay lasts for ten days and is observed in accordance with the Islamic lunar calendar and in line with ten days Ashura commemorated by Shia Muslims throughout the world.
The last four days are the most popular as the first six days are days of fasting, prayer and building of the “Tadjahs” and “Moons.”
In San Fernando, thousands coming from the various surrounding sugar plantations, participated in Hosay in the south.
But during the infamous Hosay Massacre on Thursday, October 30, 1884, under British rule, shots fired by the police to disperse the procession left 22 participants dead.
Their bodies are buried in various spots in San Fernando, one being the corner of Mucurapo and Keate Streets.
So, the Massacre brought the glory days of San Fernando Hosay to a climax with the two main centres of activities now being St James and Cedros.
Only in Cedros are the tadjahs, which represent mausoleums, are taken wholly into the sea, as they are made primarily of styrofoam which is none biodegradable. Materials used are taken back to the shore immediately after the ritual is performed at sea.