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Shahi Azakhana: Living up to the legacy of nawabs

Standing tall as an epitome of royal lifestyle of the nawabs of Awadh is the Sultanat Manzil opposite City Station. Visiting the Shahi Azakhana located here during Moharram is an experience in itself as the spirituality that dwells in its opulence could captivate anyone with its magnificence.
By Richa Srivastava | Hindustan Times, Lucknow
UPDATED ON NOV 25, 2012 12:09 PM IST

Standing tall as an epitome of royal lifestyle of the nawabs of Awadh is the Sultanat Manzil opposite City Station. Visiting the Shahi Azakhana located here during Moharram is an experience in itself as the spirituality that dwells in its opulence could captivate anyone with its magnificence.

The Sultanat Manzil, which is house of the descendants of Nawab Meer Shah Ali Khan Saheb Bahadur, the law minister of the first king of Awadh-Ghaziuddin Haider, still preserves the antique furniture and artifacts.

The entire family decorates the Azakhana (place for mourning) on the Chand Raat before Moharram and all efforts are made to ensure that the glory of the ancestors is maintained.

From the exquisite craftsmanship visible on silver alams to the sparkle of the kundan work on the vessels, the real gold and silver threads of the zari on silk patkas, the royal gulab pash for sprinkling rose water during majlis, rare designs of incense stick holders, candle stands and beautifully carved silver mashaals(torches)-all are reminiscent of the magnificence of the nawabs of Awadh.

“The Azakhana was established by Khan Bahadur Nawab Syed Hamid Hussain Khan, OBE, Life Magistrate and his wife Rani Saltanat Begum,” said Syed Masoom Raza, who traces his lineage to Nawab Meer Shah Ali Khan Saheb Bahadur, the law minister of the first King of Awadh-Ghaziuddin Haider.

He adds, “The 10 days are very pious. The entire family decorate the century old Azakhana with the antique alams and other showpieces of the nawabi times. Majlis are held and prayers are answered here.”

“Lucknow’s Moharram is known across the world for its Azadari (mourning of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his kin through marsiyas, noha and sozkhawani) and the trend is still visible in the Shia families,” said Prof Syed Ali Hamid, Raza’s uncle.

He added, “Moharram is an integral part of Shia identity. It is an expression of grief at the tragic events at Karbala in 61 Hijri. Since the nawabs of Lucknow were Shia, they established the tradition of Moharram and we take pride in taking it forward.”

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