Hussaini Brahmins isn't a name that immediately rings a bell for many Indians.
In the society we live in, one built on strong undercurrents of communal distrust, Hussaini Brahmin almost sounds like an oxymoron. However, in one corner of Delhi, Hussaini Brahmins, a section of Hindus, take out a Taziya every year during Muharram, following the Muslim tradition of beating their chests as a mark of ceremonial mourning.
A report on The Times of India states, "Their procession looks like any other, except that they don't use swords and knives. Rajinder Kumar, a resident of Shadipur depot who has headed the Kalyanpuri taziya for two decades, said his ancestors have been observing Muharram and so will his descendants."
According to the report a lot of Hindus and even Muslims in Delhi are unaware of this community. When the Hussaini Brahmins joined the Muharram procession, many assumed, even in the media, that Hindus have decided to lead the procession to prevent riots following the Trilokpuri violence.
This Facebook post attempts throw light on the traditions of this little-known community. "The history of Husaini Brahmans (also known as MOHYAL BRAHMINS) begins with ten Brahmans going to Karbala with the determination to die fighting for Imam Husain. Among them were Rahib Dutt and his seven sons who fought bravely and resolutely. With the blessings of Imam Husain they met their death in a heroic way."
The post also notes that Sunil Dutt is believed to be a descendant of Rahib Dutt.
The community is usually greeted with a mix of awe and shock when they introduce themselves and explain their religious traditions. The early predecessors of Hussain Brahmins were believed to be from Haryana and Punjab.
An old report on The Hindu quotes one Col Ramsarup Bakshi as saying, "The employees in the factory I run now were taken aback when I told them about my community. ‘Asapan asta ka?’ (Is it so?) They exclaimed.”
Bakshi added that his community cherishes its ancestral links to Imam Hussain and revers the leader.
Jitendra Mohan, president of Pune Mohiyal Samaj president, told Pune Mirror in the past, “Some of us converted to Islam. Those like us who remained Hindu Brahmins continue the martial tradition of our ancestors. Most of us are strongly built, with straight noses and face, and join the Army.”