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Zanjan, venue of world’s largest mourning parade

People in Iran’s northwestern city of Zanjan are preparing to participate in what is described as the world’s biggest parade which commemorates the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH).

The Grand Husseinieh of Zanjan draws over 200,000 Shia mourners every year who come together on the eighth of Muharram.

In 680 CE, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson flatly refused to give allegiance to the oppressive Umayyad caliph, Yazid. He was killed along with 72 of his loyal companions in the tragic massacre at Karbala.

The mourning parade in Zanjan generally lasts for 8 hours. It starts after participants have said their noon prayers and finishes at dusk prayers.

Poems are recited, litanies chanted, and addresses once again break the hearts of those hearing them as the martyrdom of the third holiest figure of Shia Islam, Imam Hussein (PBUH), and his deceased companions is called to mind.

In the spirit of brotherhood, people offer food to those assembled. As many as 11,000 sheep are slaughtered on this day in Zanjan, with the meat being distributed to disadvantaged families in Zanjan as well as adjacent towns and villages.

Imam Hussein (PBUH), his family and his companions offer a sublime example of human resistance against oppression and injustice, and not exclusively for the Muslim nations, but for all of mankind.

Today, with a mixture of wonder, sorrow, and admiration, the mourners will listen to the tales of resolute courage, generous self-sacrifice and the infinite patience of Imam Hossein as he faced severe hardship for the attainment of a sacred goal.

Imam Hussein (PBUH) not only saved Islam from deviation, distortion and corruption by the forces of apostasy and oppression, but he also revived the institution of martyrdom. In a world of cowardly men, who loved life in this physical world, Imam Hossein achieved martyrdom because of his devotion to eternal truth.

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