Claudia Borgia


Iran 2012.

It is said that the 10th of the lunar month of Muharram in the year 61st of the Hegira (October the 10th 680 AD) the Imam Hossein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, and 72 companions sacrificed their lives to defend the religion of God, the justice, the freedom and to fight the tyranny of Yazid, Umayyad dynasty, became unfairly caliph.

According to the tradition, Imam Hossein and his companions were brutally killed in Karbala desert on the day of Ashura and since then, every year, the Shia Muslim world is entering a period of mourning ending after 40 days, with the pilgrimage of Zainab, the sister of Hossein, and all the other survivors of the battle, to Imam's gholy shrine in Karbala (Iraq).

Every year during this period of mourning, and especially during the first 10 days of Moharram culminating in Ashura, millions of Shiites commemorate the martyrdom according to the rites that have been handed down for hundreds of years.

The signs of mourning cover entire cities and small villages, green, black and red flags ( which mean the descent from the family of Imam Hossein, the mourning and the blood ) are hung on the doors, on rooftops, on bridges and any other visible place .

Funeral rituals are performed mainly outdoors, but in the privacy of each family grief moments overlap with the common celebrations. Women and men gather separately to pray in Hosseiniyeh (temporary or permanent buildings, of Safavid tradition, built to perform the ceremonies of mourning for Imam Hossein and other Shiite martyrs), or organize the celebrations in their homes; march in processions dressing the role of the protagonists of martyrdom; beat their chest or head with their hand, or hit their shoulders with chains making the ritual of self-flagellation.

A major impetus for the development of Ashura as a religoius, popular and artistic phenomenon, came with the rise of the Safavids (1501 - 1736) to power. It was during their rule that the dramatic theatrical genre known as Ta'ziyeh has developed and become popular. In the passion staged in the theaters outdoors or in Hosseiniyeh, the actors play various characters of Ashura and recreate the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, with a particularity: during the fighting scenes, the men also interpret the roles of women, but with her face covered, in obedience to Islamic rule according to which there shall be no contact between men and women who are not married.

It is said that after the unequal battle of Karbala the enemy captured the survivors and took them to the palace of the caliph Yazid in Damascus. Here Zainab, who was part of the prisoners, gave two speeches in which revealed the truth about the massacre of Imam Hossein and his companions and woke people hypnotized by the false propaganda of Yazid, who wanted Hossein as a rebel. It is further said that if it was not for her, the tragic event of Karbala would be forgotten and messages of Ashura, truth and justice, would not have been passed down from generation to generation.

The project was carried out in the city of Tehran and in the village of Noshabad.

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