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Summer 2005, vol 3 no 2

Modern Haiga

Gillena Cox ~ photo-renga


Editor’s note: In this uneasy and troubled world, it is important to remember that there is beauty and value in every life and in those beliefs and rituals that sustain us. Gillena Cox offers us insight into one such ritual through her photo-renga that is as beautiful in its display as it is meaningful to those who participate. The more we learn, the more we understand that, in spite of ourselves, we are all one people. ~ jd

—a renga—

Hosay (HO-SAY) is a mourning festival for Hussein and Hassan, the martyred grandsons of the Prophet Mohammed, observed by the Shiite Muslim community in Trinidad and Tobago; and witnessed by people—local and foreign—whether Muslims or non Muslims. In their preparation for Hosay, observers fast for one month and construct colorful sculptures called tadjahs (TA-JARS) which represent the tombs of the two brothers.

The first night of Hosay is "Flag Night," and flags are carried on a float through the streets. This night reflects solemnly on the Battle of Karbala, which proved to be a clash involving Islamic truths and falsehood, right and wrong, faith and brute force. The second night of the festival is "Small Hosay" and features a parade of small sculptures. The third night, "Big Hosay," is filled with huge decorated tadjahs, two of which are shaped in the form of crescent moons which represent the martyrs. The town of St. James in Trinidad is a good place to see the festival. There are more than five Hosay Yards where the Sculptures are made and visitors, both foreign and local, visit these yards, take photos, and chat with the families who observe the hosay. The Tadjahs are paraded along the Western Main Road in St. James to the beat of both large tassa drums and smaller drums with goatskin tops; the smaller drums have to be heated from time to time during the parades, and small manageable fires are made alongside the road where the drummers 'fire' their drums. Though a solemn observation, the atmosphere is one of excitement, awe and camaraderie on these three nights of Hosay.
                                                                               —gillena cox; St. James, Trinidad

[ Click on the image below to view Gillena Cox's photo-renga]


Gillena Cox lives in St. James, Trinidad of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. She was born in 1950. In 1971 she married Anthony Cox; they have two children, a daughter named Yanda, and a son named Khama.

She is now retired and spends her time taking nature photos, painting and drawing, and writing poetry. She also enjoys a challenging game of Scrabble.



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