Ashura

© Wendy Marijnissen - Ashura in the old city of Lahore. Pakistan

 

Today’s blasts in Afghanistan reminded me of the Ashura processions I was fortunate to photograph 2 years ago in the old city of Lahore.

Ashura marks the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Hussein in the battle of Karbala in Iraq in the year 680. It is made up of mourning rituals re-enacting the martyrdom. Shia men dressed in black walk through the streets hitting their chests and chanting. Slowly the rituals and chanting build up to the point where the adult men hit themselves with knives until they bleed. It sounds horrible and some of the photographs are bloody and not really appetizing to watch. But besides the fear that some of the processions might be targeted and bombed like today in Kabul, the atmosphere actually was very serene.

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