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Marsiya is an Urdu-Persian poetry form that is recited normally on the death of a dear one.

Marsiya

Marsiya is an Urdu-Persian poetry form that is recited normally on the death of a dear one. This art form was first originated in Iran, originally originated from Arabic and Persian language, where it was customary to recite Marsiya in order to commemorate and lament the death of Hazrat Hussein and 72 of his comrades during the siege of Karbala. Marsiya generally consists of six-line units, with a rhyming quatrain, and a couplet on a different rhyme. Marsiya has its roots in Arabic and Persian literature. By 1830 the genre had emerged in Lucknow, at the hands of Mir Babur Ali Anis and Mirza Salamat Ali Dabir, in a form distinct from its earlier literary antecedents. Marsiya is extremely popular all over the world but some of the best exponents of Marsiya reside in Lucknow. To know more about Marsiya, continue to read this insightful article on it.

History Of Marsiya
Battle Of Karbala: Marsiya honors the events that happened in the battle of Karbala. The battle took place on the Iraqi city Of Kufa on the 10th day of Muharram. There are historical proofs available that gives us a better insight into the sequence and events of the battle that took place between the contingent of the Umayyad forces and the caraven of Husain Ibn ‘Ali, on their way to the city of Kufa. Husain did not pledge loyalty Yazid Inb Mu’awiya. This led to the detention of his caravan by the Umayyad forces. After the detention, Husain was pressurized into swearing his oath to the new caliph in Madinah. Husain was indisposed to pledge his loyalty to someone who was known for his drinking and squandering. He decided to accept the offer of the Kufan masses and started a mutiny against the caliph. Husain went to Kufa with his army of 50 armed men with their women and children. All of this infuriated Yazid and he took Husain’s act of leaving for Kufa without taking an oath of loyalty as an act of animosity and passed on the orders to Ubaidallah Ibn Ziyad to sabbotarge the Kufa mutiny, preventing the arrival of Husain in Kufa. Husain’s caravan was stopped by Hurr’s army of at least 1000 men. Umar had cut of Husain and his people’s access to the river and asked for his signing of the oath of support to Yazid. Husain did not yield to this and asked instead to be allowed his and his people’s retreatment to Arabia. Negotiations between both the parties did not work out and on the 9th day of Muharram, Husain with his army started getting prepared for a battle as Umayyad’s forces were moving closer to their Caravans. On the 10th day, as a desperate measure, Husain again requested to be left alone. This appeal remained unheard and the battle began. The relatives and companions of Husain joined him in this battle of Karbala. Eventually all of his 72 companions and relatives died on the battle field and he too got killed by the afternoon. All of caravan was looted and women and children along with the invalid son of Husain, Zain al’Abidin, were taken into captivity and transported to Kufa. There they were ridiculed by ‘Ubaidallah. These captives were taken into custody and put behind the bars in Kufa and then later transported to Damascus. In Damascus, these captives were presented in front of Yazid along with the head of Husain. This is the general sequence of events presented histrorically, the consequence of the battle of Karbala led to the formation of Shi’I Islam. The followers of the descendants of Muhammad made the martyrdom of Husain and his people as the main focus of dedication and devotion.

Structure: A Marsiya is characterized by six-line verses in an AA, AA and BB rhyme scheme. An independent verse of Marsiya is known as Noha. They are traditionally either recited by Marsiya-Khwans or sung by a Marsiya-Soz at Shia mourning assemblies held during the month of Mohharum. Though its language draws heavily on Arabic and Persian vocabulary, the Urdu Marsiya is imbued with the color and flavor of the Indian subcontinent. The best of verses are exquisite cameos composed of images of local flora and fauna, drawing on local custom and tradition. Some of the famous Marsiya writers are Mir Babur Ali Anis, Salamat Ali Dabir, Syed Muhammad Mirza Uns, Syed Sajjad Hussein, Shadeed Lucknavi, Dr. Syed Ali Imam Zaidi and Gauher Lucknavi.

Mir Babar Ali Anis’s Ideal Marsiya
Qalam-e fike se khincuun jo kisis bazm ka rang
Shama’-e tasveer peh girne lagen aa aa ke patang
Saaf hairat-zadeh mani ho to behzaad ho dang
Khoon barasta nazar aaye jo dikhaaun saf-e jang
Razm aisi ho ke dil sab ke pharak jaayen
Bijliyaan teghon ki aankhon mein camak jaayen
Bazm ka rang judaa rang ka maidaan hai juda
Fahm-e kaamil ho toh har name kaa ‘unvaan hai judaa
Mukhtasar parh ke rulaa dene ka saamaan hai judaa
Dabdabah bhi ho massai’b bhi hon tausiif bhi ho
Dil bhi mahzuz hon riqqat bhi ho tar’reef bhi ho.