News ID: 14201
Published: 0339 GMT October 25, 2014

Muharram; month of victory of virtue over vice

Muharram; month of victory of virtue over vice

Intangible heritages of Iranians, their customs and social life could be a good means of attracting foreign tourists.


These heritages include special customs, traditional lullabies and mourning ceremonies.

Mourning ceremonies for the Infallible Household (PBUH) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), particularly those for commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Imam of Shias, have blended with the history of all nations that value truth, justice and salvation.

The battle in Karbala, Iraq, took place in 680 CE after Imam Hussein (PBUH) and his 72 companions, including his family, fought with valor against the much larger army of the Umayyad Caliph Yazid.

Muslims believe Imam Hussein (PBUH) stood up against the tyrant of the time to protect Islam from any deviation or distortion, and guide Muslims toward the right path.

Muslims also use other means to mark the tragic event, such a Ta’zeih or passion play, which includes a dramatic presentation of events leading to and following Imam Hussein's (PBUH) martyrdom.

Nothing could separate this spiritual heritage from the lives of Iranians. In fact, they hold ceremonies from the first of the lunar month of Muharram, on the 10th day of which the martyrdom took place (known as Ashura).

These ceremonies continue till the 40th day after the martyrdom (known as Arbaeen), until which Iranians avoid any type of personal or social celebration.


Spiritual heritage


Spiritual heritage could play an influential role in disseminating Iranian-Islamic culture to tourists.

Religious tourism could be one of the major attractions for tourists, because it relates to religious practices of people. Religion is an important factor in the daily lives of people.

These religious ceremonies could be organized near shrines and mausoleums where tourists go to pay their respects.

The first ten days of Muharram, which are held with a great deal of zeal and enthusiasm in every part of Iran annually, have high potentials for promoting religious tourism.

Zanjan has famous Husseinieh and Zeinabieh (places for holding religious commemorative ceremonies) where the event is marked with a great display of emotions.

From Ardabil to Ahvaz, Iranians organize a variety of special mourning ceremonies to mark the occasion.

In fact, the country's architecture, art, poetry, carpet weaving and even visual arts have imbibed and manifest their endless love for Imam Hussein (PBUH).

In spite of Iran's distance from the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (PBUH), numerous Iranian mourning customs have made it a strong contender for registering its Ashura heritage on UNESCO's World Heritage List.


Muharram rituals and ceremonies


Chehel Minbari: This mourning ceremony is a special tradition practiced in Iran's western Lorestan province, in which thousands of women commemorate the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH).

Women from cities and towns across Lorestan cover their faces with black cloth and walk in silence as they knock on the doors of 40 houses and light candles in 40 spots, as mourners beat their chests in their grief over the suffering and martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH).

The custom is observed every year on Tasua (the ninth day of Muharram), as a show of solidarity with the sister of Imam Hussein (PBUH), Hazrat Zeinab (PBUH).

Shia mourners throughout the world gather, especially on Tasua, Ashura and Arbaeen, to commemorate the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH).

The Chehel Minbari ritual starts after participants have said their dawn prayers and ends at dusk prayers.


Nakhl-Gardani in Yazd: One of the most important mourning ceremonies observed in Muharram in different parts of Iran is Nakhl-Gardani.

Cities such as Yazd, Semnan, Damghan, Khomein, Qom, Kashan, Abyaneh, Khor-Biabanak, Zavvareh, Ardestan and Naein are major centers for holding Nakhl-Gardani.

The most important Nakhl-Gardani ceremonies are held across Yazd province.

Nakhl symbolizes the coffin (casket) of Imam Hussein (PBUHH). It is a scaffold shaped like a tree leaf.

Mourners cover Nakhl, which is largely made of wood, with black fabrics and at some places swords and daggers are hung from it.

Nakhl is lifted by mourners and carried in circles on special days.


Gel-Mali: The people of Khorramabad in Lorestan province 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.

Similar ceremonies are also observed in other parts of Iran.

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