Zuljinnah, O Zuljinnah, come to our home', is a slogan children raise while waiting outside their houses and processional routes of Ashura processions of the replica of sacred horse of Hazrat Imam Hussein (RA) gifted to him by his maternal grandfather Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

Zuljinnah (real name Murtajiz) was a very special character, having significant role in the battle of Karbala. Various narrations of Islamic history have quoted when Imam Hussein (RA) got injured, Zuljinnah, who himself was badly injured, turned around Imam (RA) to keep enemy forces away from him. Not only this but (he) also took Imam Hussein (RA) to the Khemagahs (tents) of his family.

In large cities like Lahore, the tradition of Zuljinnah has gradually been decentralised. The Zuljinah procession taken out on 9th of Muharramul Harram from Nisar Haveli is considered to the biggest procession of its kind in the country that culminates at Imambargah Karbala Gamay Shah on 10th of Muharram in the evening.

"I bought this horse when it was five-month-old from a Gardezi family, residing in Multan Cantt. I take a lot of care throughout the year. I have taken it to "Salami" of Hazrat Shah Shams around six times so far. I will take it to Sher Shah for a procession to be taken out there on Ashura," said Mustaq Hussain, a caretaker of Zuljinnah from Ghareebabad area of city.

The original name of Dhuljanah (Arabic name) was Murtajiz and Maymoon was another horse and the reason for it being named Zuljinnah was because of its sound of neighing being sweet, furious and high making it different from other horses. It features prominently in the traditional narrating of the story of the Battle of Karbala and it is thought to have been a white stallion, historians believe.

"Hazrat Imam Hussein (RA) had three pets, Zuljinnah, Duldul and Aukab, with him during the Battle of Karbala. As far as my knowledge goes, Zuljinnah was brown in colour and Duldul was a mule gifted to the Chief of Youth in Heaven, Hazrat Imam Hussein (RA), by his maternal grandfather Hazrat Muhammad (SAWW)," says Khursheed Abbas Gardezi.

Landlord by profession, Khursheed Gardezi said that Zuljinnah used these days did not belong to any specific breed of horses. Usually, landlords used to buy horses to make them replica of Zuljinnah in the past, he added.

"Ornaments like sword, arrows, bridle and quivers (Kamaan) are made up of silver for Zuljinnah processions. These are called 'Sunjh' and in other words, these may be termed as ornaments of Zuljinnah. The quiver (Kamaan) has been prepared in an old locality of city known as Mullah Kamangarn from where a procession is also taken out every year during the sacred month."

There are a number of processions of Zuljinnah brought across Pakistan, but the Nisar Haveli procession is the biggest, he said and added that Gardezi family did not take out a single procession.

The processions are usually taken out on Muharram 9 and 10, to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (RA) at Karbala. The tradition began in the Sub-continent about 800 to 1,000 years ago, with Taimurlane's arrival. It was gradually adopted throughout the Sub-continent and became a religious icon, becoming a fundamental part of Muharram processions.

Several Zuljinnah processions are taken out during tAshura-e-Muharram in Multan, besides rest of the country highlighting the role Zuljinnah played in Karbala with Hazrat Imam Hussein (RA).

"Only license-holders can buy a horse to make it a replica of Zuljinnah. The licensing system was introduced by British in the Sub-continent. New licenses are not being issued now. People having the history of holding licenses can get them renewed.

"Some of our family members have items of Sunjh made up of gold, silver and wood," said Gardezi.

It is believed that after the martyrdom of Harazat Imam Hussain (RA), the Zuljinnah went to Alqama Canal and never returned, he adds.

Arabic horses are of three types - Kehylan, Seglawi and Muniqi.

These are known for their power, endurance, beauty, elegance and speed.

Several English writers have authored books on horses, including Guide to the horses of the world by Karoline Silver, Horses by Warren Evans, The Horses by Candidda Geddes and Horse Facts by Susan Mcbane, and Helen Douglas Cooper etc.

It is to be noted that great Urdu poet Mir Babbar Ali Anis wrote thousands of verses in commemoration of Zuljnnah.