IraqMiddle East

Najaf preparing for Ashura ceremonies

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Last minute touches are being made by the local authorities and people in Najaf ahead of Ashura mourning ceremony. Holy Najaf is home to the shrine of the first Shia Imam – Ali Bin Abi Taleb -, who was the son in law of the Prophet of Islam Muhammed and the father of the third Shia Imam Hussein, peace be upon them all. Imam Hussein along with his companions was martyred some 14-hundred years ago in what is now known as modern day Iraq.
During the first ten days of Muharram – which are held to mark the battle of Karbala – Najaf is flooded with mourners. As tradition in Najaf holds, the people here build makeshift tents which they use as a round-the-clock open kitchen to serve the visitors of the shrine with food, drinks and meet their medical needs. Another of Najaf’s centuries-old traditions is for people to rally outside the shrine of Imam Ali every night in the first ten days of Muharram. Ashura ceremonies in Najaf come amid very tight security this year. Security forces and scanners are at every corner.Multiple checkpoints have been set up along the way to the shrine in an extensive effort to search each and every one of the arriving visitors. Though the city has witnessed the entrance of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in the past week or so – the best is yet to come with the largest procession expected on the day of Ashura. Imam Ali’s shrine in Holy Najaf hosts the second largest Ashura mourning ceremony in Iraq, after Karbala. People flow here from all over Iraq to pay their condolences to Imam Ali over the martyrdom of his son Imam Hussein and to renew their vow of allegiance to Imam Hussein who sacrificed all his family for the preservation of Islam.

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