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Nabatiyeh, Lebanon: January 30, 2006
Thousands of Muslim Shiite men and women gathered in the southern Lebanese market town of Nabatiyeh to mark Ashoura, a time of mourning for Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, who was killed in a 680 A.D. battle at Karbala in what is now Iraq.
In the early morning a cleric began recounting the story of Imam Hussein as people gathered in front a specially decorated hall in the town’s square. Little boys showed up with their fathers, wearing a piece of white cloth around their necks, while many believers were already seated listening to the story telling, some watching on a TV screen. A man wiped a blade with alcohol before hitting each boy on the head. Some boys were proud, some others resisted the cutting, crying and shouting. Others cried at the sight of their friends, faces covered with blood. The children were offered juice and breakfast afterwards. It was the turn of the older men now.
Young men arrived later to the hall, conversing with each other. After a while they started hitting their heads with blades, then pounding the wound with the palm of their hands. They walked in groups in the town square, while shouting “Haidar” and “Ya Hussein”, as residents standing on the side of the roads watched them parading. Young women wept at the sight of their bloodied partners, who seemed to be very proud. Some fainted, others carried them. Rescuers from the civil defense and the Red Cross were waiting in tents giving first aid.
Just before noon a group of Shiite men, waving Iraqi flags and shouting slogans arrived in front of the big hall. These were the Iraqis of Lebanon, who came from all around the country to mark Ashoura. As they paraded in circles in the town square, faces and white cloths full of blood, they shouted and mourned. Other men in the parade beat the drums and played instruments as they surrounded the procession.
As the final hour of the killing of Imam Hussein was recounted, just before noon, the cleric broke down and wept. Several men and women listening wept, others slapped their heads in mourning. The parades stopped and people started preparing to continue with a normal day.
This photo's caption:
Some Shia follow the custom of drawing blood to commemorate the blood spilled in Karbala when Hussein and his family and friends were killed.
Musicians are part of the procession.
Bystanders watch the procession. A woman uses her phone to take a photo.
A hall where men are listening to a cleric tell the story of Hussein's martyrdom, separately from women.