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Wednesday, 13 November 2013 09:33

Ashura Rituals

Muslims mark the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), on Ashura, which is 10th day of the lunar month of Muharram.

The forces of the tyrant caliph Yazid also killed the 72 relatives and companions of Imam Hussein (AH) in Karbala, Iraq, for not giving their oath of allegiance.
In recent decades, people in different regions of Iran enact various events on Ashura.
The mourning ceremonies and rituals take many different forms and vary widely across the country and have become more elaborate over the years.

Nakhl-Gardani in Yazd

One of the most important mourning ceremonies observed in Muharram in different parts of Iran is Nakhl-Gardani.
Cities and villages such as Semnan, Damghan, Khomein, Qom, Kashan, Abyaneh, Khor-Biabanak, Zavvareh, Ardestan and Naeen near the central desert of Iran are major centers for holding Nakhl-Gardani ceremony.
The most important Nakhl-Gardani ceremonies are held across Yazd province.
Nakhl symbolizes the coffin (casket) of Imam Hussein (AH). It is a scaffold shaped like a tree leaf. Mourners cover Nakhl, which is largely made of wood, with black fabrics and hang hundreds of swords and daggers from it.
It also has other decorations such as mirrors, fruits, decorative knots and silk clothes, which are tied at two sides of Nakhl.
As they are very heavy, Nakhl is lifted by mourners and carried in circles.
Collecting money or food for cooking Nazri (food cooked for mourners) is one of the most common customs.
Large copper pots are placed in public places such as major squares, intersections, pilgrimage sites and busy routes on the first day of Muharram. Every pot belongs to a certain religious group or Hosseinieh (a prayer or religious center, especially for organizing commemorative events). Those who have a wish put money or foodstuff, such as cereals, rice and sugar in the pots. The pots are collected before the ninth day of Muharram.
Other ceremonies such as Rowzeh-Khani (religious sermon), Sineh-Zani (beating the chest as a sign of grief) and slaughtering cattle are held alongside Nakhl-Gardani.
The city of Taft boasts the largest Nakhl of Yazd province. Millions of mourners attend this ceremony during Ashura every year.

Ashura Ceremonies in Lorestan

Lorestan’s people hold ceremonies such as performing sad music with Chamari (a traditional musical instrument) and Gel-Mali (covering oneself with mud as a sign of mourning) during the first decade of Muharram.
As Muharram approaches, they set up tents and cover the mosques and Hosseinieh with black banners and clothes to commemorate the event.
Mourners beat their chests as a sign of grief and mourning. They wear black clothes and headbands bearing “Ya Hussein”.
Lorestan’s people cook Nazri with rice, cooking oil, flour, sugar, rosewater and saffron, and distribute it among mourners.

Chehel Menbar

Chehel Menbar is one of the special traditions of Khorramabad held on 9th Muharram. The women wear a veil, cover their faces, move from Bagh Dokhtaran district and light 40 candles at homes with open doors. Those homes in which the candles are lighted are called Menbar. The mournful people sing sorrowful songs in groups and move to the central part of the city. The ceremony lasts until the evening of Ashura.


The people of Khorramabad city mix clay with water and place it in major squares for people to apply it on their faces and clothes as a sign of mourning.
Some people collect dry wood and light fire so as to warm mourners who cover themselves with mud.
On the night of Ashura, they perform Sham-e Ghariban ceremony. They cover their heads, necks and shoulders with special black turbans, and light candles to commemorate the event.

Source: Iran Daily

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