Millions of pilgrims from across the world are in Iraq’s holy city of Karbala to mark 40 days since the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
Large groups of black-clad mourners, many of whom have reached Karbala after trekking at least 76 kilometers from Najaf, are observing Arbaeen, known as the largest annual religious gathering on earth.
Arbaeen, meaning the fortieth in Arabic, is observed 40 days after Ashura, the tenth day of the lunar calendar month of Muharram, when Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam, was martyred at the hands of the tyrant of the time, Yazid I, back in the seventh century.
Imam Hussein is a highly-venerated figure not only among Shia Mulims but also Sunnis, Christians and the people of other faiths.
Iraq has tightened security in and around Karbala, which is home to Imam Hussein’s holy shrine, stationing tens of thousands of security personnel near the perimeters of the sanctuary as well as on all roads leading to the city.