In the impression of many outsiders, the Shia mourning procession of Ashura is identical with blood of men flagellating themselves with knives and blade. But in Iran, blood ritual is prohibited. The remembrance of the most important event for the Shia Muslims in Iran is instead full of cultural and artistic values. Ashura is the day of grievance, to remember the death of Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, in the War of Karbala. A theatrical play known as taziya is usually performed in the night before the Ashura, to enact the struggle of Hussain in the War of Karbala. The performance also emphasizes on poetry and music, perfectly shows the affection of Iranians towards art and culture. One of the highlights of the play is when they show the death of Ali Asghar, the six-month-old son of Hussain who was killed by Yazid’s soldiers with an arrow to his throat. The Shias possess special emotional tie with Ali Ashgar, who is commemorated as the “innocent victim” in the “war against injustice”. When the play enact the death of the young boy, the audience showed their grievance by tears and their respect by pouring the little boy actor with money.

Karaj, Iran, 2009

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