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17:26 - 2009-01-10

Wailing Shiite Pilgrims Throng Holy City of Karbala

Photos:


Ashoura in Karbala
Ashoura is the tenth day of the month of Moharram (the first month on the lunar calendar used in Arab countries)
The shrine city south of Baghdad was heavily guarded as devotees from across the Muslim world flooded through a long series of security checkpoints to reach the main focus of their pilgrimage - two imposing shrines, one to Imam Hossein (AS) and the other to his brother Hazrat Abbas (AS(.
The rituals commemorating the killing of Imam Hossein by armies of the cruel caliph Yazid in 680 reached their climax in Karbala on Wednesday, but processions marking Shiite Islam's holiest days have been held across the country and the Shiite world for a week before that .
Imam Hossein (AS) was martyred in the 680 A.D. battle fought on the plains outside Karbala, a city in modern Iraq that's home to the Imam's holy shrine and where over 2 million Shiites gathered Wednesday to mark Ashoura.
In the battle, Imam Hossein (AS) was decapitated and his body mutilated by Yazid's armies.
Imam Hossein's male family members, relatives, friends, soldiers who all together formed a 72-member army were beheaded in an unequal war with a 30,000-strong army of the enemy in the desert of Karbala.
The Imam and 72 of his loyal friends and followers were massacred by the troops of the Caliph in 680 at a place close to what is now Karbala, Iraq.
The enemy army even killed his 6-month-old son after days of thirst.
Ashoura in Karbala
Known as Moharram and observed by Shiites across the world, the occasion climaxed Wednesday, Ashoura, i.e. the 10th day of the lunar Muslim month of Moharram.
Over two million people were in Karbala, 110 kilometers (70 miles) south of Baghdad, by Tuesday, guarded by a heavy security force deployment.
Akil al-Khazali, governor of Karbala province, said more than 55,000 foreigners had already arrived from countries such as Iran, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan and Tanzania.
Ashoura in Karbala
Swarming crowds in Karbala on Tuesday and Wednesday joined somber processions in which men and even some boys, accompanied by drummers, beat their chests and engaged in the devotional self-flagellation that characterizes the Ashoura rituals.
Imam Hossein (AS) was decapitated and his body mutilated by Yazid's armies.
Imam Hossein (AS) was martyred on Ashoura afternoon
The Moharram rituals and ceremonies start from the first day of Moharram To express remorse for not saving Imam Hossein (AS), Shiite volunteers beat themselves with chains during processions to the two shrines.
Ashoura in Karbala
Known as Moharram and observed by Shiites across the world, the occasion climaxed Wednesday, Ashoura, i.e. the 10th day of the lunar Muslim month of Moharram.
Tents and small wooden rooms covered in black fabric and adorned with lights and pictures of Shiite imams have sprung up across the city for pilgrims in need of food or seeking a rest from the intense bustle of the streets.
The pilgrims ritually drink a goblet of fresh water to remember the burning thirst that companions and family members of Imam Hossein (AS) endured as they were led through the desert to captivity in Syria.
Ashoura in Karbala
Known as Moharram and observed by Shiites across the world, the occasion climaxed Wednesday, Ashoura, i.e. the 10th day of the lunar Muslim month of Moharram.
Participating in the Ashoura commemorations in Karbala is for Shiite Muslims second only to the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Ashoura in Karbala
In the battle, Imam Hossein (AS) was decapitated and his body mutilated by Yazid's armies.
The enemy army even killed his 6-month-old son after days of thirst.
Over two million people were in Karbala, 110 kilometers (70 miles) south of Baghdad, by Tuesday, guarded by a heavy security force deployment.
Imam Hossein (AS) was decapitated and his body mutilated by Yazid's armies.
Imam Hossein (AS) was martyred on Ashoura afternoon
Ashoura in Karbala
Participating in the Ashoura commemorations in Karbala is for Shiite Muslims second only to the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Ashoura is the tenth day of the month of Moharram (the first month on the lunar calendar used in Arab countries)