Lucknow's Chota Imambada is known for its 'Tabarruk' (seeking divine blessing and grace from a person or thing God has given privilege). On Sunday, the Bawarchi Khana or the Royal kitchen of the Nawab started the ritual in Lucknow to bring 'Tabarruk' to people. The practice of distributing food is carried out for the first 10 days of the month of Muharram (According to the Islamic Calendar). The tradition is almost 180-years-old and has a special menu. This ritual is aimed at feeding the masses and Lucknow probably is the only city in the country that practices the ritual at such a huge scale.
The Royal Kitchen is believed to have been started by Nawab of Lucknow Muhammad Ali Shah, to ensure the sacred offerings reaches to the 'mourners' of 'Muharram' as a part of the 10 days long Muharram rituals. Muhammad Ali Shah had also started a trust - the 'Hussainabad and Allied Trust' - to ensure the alms reach the people. Surprisingly, even almost 200 years on, the trust is functional even today.
The idea behind 'Tabarruk' is that sharing food is a source of getting blessings. Hence, everyone tries and to distribute food amongst their friends and relatives. The local restaurants and bakeries that prepare delicacies like biryani, bread, sheermal see blooming business during Muharram. The people who have the means to do so order food on a huge scale meant to be distributed within the community and neighbourhood irrespective of religion. Tabarruk does not necessarily have to be food, it can be anything from clothes to toys to even money.
The practice of 'tabarruk' in Muharram is followed by Muslims to seek blessings and to reach out to friends, family and the less fortunate.