Millions of Shia Muslims were on Thursday marking Ashura with massive rallies and gathering in several countries across the Middle East.
The day of Ashura is the 10th day of Muharram in the Lunar Hijri calendar. It marks the day when Imam Hussein (PBUH) was martyred along with his 72 companions at the Battle of Karbala in southern Iraq in 680 AD after fighting courageously for justice against the much larger army of the Umayyad caliph, Yazid I.
Each year on Ashura, the mourners, dressed in black, march in mass processions, listen to elegies and hold noon prayers, with benefactors distributing votive foods.
In Iran, however, ceremonies are different this year as gatherings in closed areas and street marches are banned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei attended a mourning ceremony on the eve of Ashura last night. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raeisi also addressed a mourning ceremony in Tehran on Wednesday night, Iranian media reported.
In Lebanon, Ashura ceremonies were held but with restricted measures in a bid to meet with health protocols related to the coronavirus pandemic. Gathering this year were held in open areas across towns in south Lebanon, Beirut’s southern suburb (Dahiyeh) and Bekaa.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah addressed mourners on Thursday, renewing allegiance to Imam Hussein vowing to abide by his eternal principles of confronting oppression.
In Iraq, ceremonies and processions were held in commemoration of Ashura, with the holy city of Karbala receiving tens of thousands of pilgrims who flocked the holy shrines of Imam Hussein (AS) and his brother Al-Abbas (AS).
In Yemen, mass rallies were held in the capital Sanaa, with mourners holding anti-US and anti-Israel banners and chanting for Imam Hussein (AS).
Elsewhere in Turkey, Caferi community of Shiite Muslims held a parade and commemoration event in the eastern province of Kars, where the community has a big presence, to mark the martyrdom of Imam Hussein.