Tehran, 2006/02/09, IRNA
Today, Ashura, or the 10th day of the lunar mourning month of Moharram, the world's Shiites, including Iranians, mark the martyrdom anniversary of Hazrat Hussain Ibn Ali (a.s.), the third Imam of Prophet Mohammad's (s.a.w.a.) Infallible Household.
Millions in the country took part in mourning processions arranged on the occasion with the beating of chests and self-flagellation.
According to incoming reports, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei took part in one of such religious ceremonies held in Tehran to pay tribute to the `Lord of Martyrs' and 72 of his companions, including his immediate family and followers, who attained martyrdom in the scorched plains of Karbala in Iraq 1,365 years ago.
Ashura is marked by Muslims with a voluntary day of fasting which also commemorates the day Noah left his Ark as well as the day Moses was saved from the hand of the Egyptian pharaoh by God.
Ashura is observed with the enactment of mourning rituals and passion plays on the martyrdom.
Shiite men and women dressed in black also parade through the streets beating their chests and chanting.
Some Shiite men seek to emulate the suffering of Imam Hussain (a.s.) by flagellating themselves with chains or cutting their foreheads until blood streams out from their wounds.
Ashura is observed worldwide with reverence and solemnity to commemorate the supreme sacrifice made by Hazrat Imam Hussein (a.s.) in order to uphold the principles of justice and truth against the tyrant Yazid.
Ashura is observed annually as a holiday in most countries, including Iran.
Mourning ceremonies to mark the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (a.s.) has a special status in Iranian culture.
The event is observed in a unique way in Iran and is unlike the rituals held in other Islamic countries in terms of magnitude.
Ashura is a most widespread festival in Iran and it is uniquely observed by the youth with fervor and as a socializing opportunity.
The ceremonies held during the mourning month of Muharram have two aspects, that is, rising up against injustice with devotion and courage and the tragedy of martyrdom of Imam Hussein (a.s.) on Ashura.
In the evening, Sham-i-Ghariban is traditionally held in all cities and towns during which scholars throw light on the philosophy of Shahadat offered by the grandson of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and his companions and relatives for the cause of Islam.