0136 GMT November 21, 2018
Deputy Governor of Karbala Province Ali al-Mayali said more than 10 million pilgrims had arrived in the province over the past days to attend the Arba’een mourning rituals, Tasnim News agency reported.
Large groups of mourners, some two millions of them Iranians, traveled on foot toward the holy city to take part in the largest annual Islamic gathering on the planet.
Thousands of security forces had been deployed along the routes leading to the holy city.
Iranian First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri expressed his gratitude to the people and government of Iraq for hosting Iranian pilgrims, saying the event has “opened the gate” for closer ties between the two nations.
Karbala, which hosts the holy shrine of the third Shia Imam, every year attracts millions of pilgrims, even non-Muslims, who create the world’s hugest human gathering in modern history.
This year’s Arba’een fell on October 30.
The march was forbidden for many years, under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who fought a devastating war with Iran in the 1980s. Restrictions were only lifted after his downfall in 2003.
With the formation of a new Iraqi state, the march quickly became one of the most popular religious pilgrimages in the world.
Even the emergence of the Daesh terror group in Iraq and its ruthless attacks did not deter the pilgrims.
Massive procession in Tehran
Also in Tehran, a mourning ceremony marking Arba’een was held on Tuesday with Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei in attendance.
The ceremony was attended by a large number of students from across the country.
Concurrently, huge crowds of people in the Iranian capital and other cities commemorated Arba’een.