Shiites in Iran and other countries have been mourning since Sunday for Hazrat Hussein Ibn Ali (AS), the third infallible Imam of Prophet Mohammad's (Peace Be Upon Him and His Progeny) infallible Household, on the eve of his 1,364th martyrdom anniversary, which falls on Tuesday, the 10th day of the lunar month of Moharram, 'Ashura,' IRNA reported from Tehran.
The mourners, clad in black, took part in ceremonies, held on the occasion in Iranian cities and towns, including in the quake-torn city of Bam (in southeastern Kerman Province) to commemorate the tragic loss of the grandson of the prophet by tyrants of his age.
People reportedly held processions in routes, while carrying tall flags in white, red and mostly black and singing elegies, to mark the occasion.
In some parts of the country the mourners carried mock coffins, accompanied by decorated horses. There have also been street staging of the religious event by some volunteers to recall the pain and suffering borne by Imam Hossein and his family in Karbala.
Chest beating, self-whipping by strands of chain, drum pounding, self-flagellation with knives or chains, praying and free juice and food distribution, and night vigil, were among other parts of the ceremony.
The ceremony lasts more than a week, but builds to a crescendo on Tuesday -- the actual Ashura, or 10th day of the Muslim month of Muharram -- which marks the moment Imam Hossein was martyred and beheaded by his enemies in Karbala.
Both Tasu'a (9th day of the lunar Month of Moharram) and Ashura are public holidays in Iran, during which the faithful mourn loss of Imam Hossein (AS).
Hazrat Imam Hossein (AS) fell a martyr with 72 of his loyal and faithful companions and relatives at a heart-breaking historical event in Karbala (Iraq) at the hands of tyrannical and blood thirsty forces of Yazid Ibn Muavieh in the year 61 A.H. (680 A.D.).
There have been similar ceremonies in Iraq, particularly in Karbala, where lovers of the 'Lord of Martyrs' managed to observe the occasion after a 30-year ban.
For more than 30 years under Saddam's Baath party regime, public processions to mark the festival were banned, forcing Shi'ites to perform the rituals in the secrecy of their homes, where they became an act of religious and political defiance.
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