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The commencement of the Islamic New Year is observed on the first day of Muharram, a holy month for all Muslims. On the tenth day of Muharram, The Shia Muslims commemorate Ashura or the day when Yazid I, the second Umayyad caliph, assassinated Imam Hussain and his infant son in the Battle of Karbala fourteen centuries ago.
Ashura is a significant holiday in many Muslim nations, and the Mourning of Muharram is a set of rituals mostly performed by Shia Muslims. Read further to know more about the celebration of Ashura around the world.
Ashura 2024 dates and calendar
The exact date of the month’s beginning is traditionally determined by religious scholars/authorities under the cover of night as they seek to observe certain sightings related to the appearance and cycle of the moon.
The 11th Muharram or Ashura will fall on July 16th to 17th this year. Ashura 2023 will be celebrated on sundown of Tuesday, 16 July, and ends at sundown on Wednesday, 17 July.
How is Ashura celebrated around the world?
Ashura, a significant religious observance, is not universally recognized as such by all Muslim countries, as it holds particular significance for Shia Muslims. In countries where Ashura is observed, it is customary to designate Ashura Day as a public holiday, allowing those who commemorate the occasion to solemnly observe it with ease.
In Algeria, Shia Muslims commence their Ashura festivities by partaking in a delightful dinner gathering subsequent to the conclusion of their Ashura fast. The dinner table is adorned with an array of flavorful delicacies, including dishes such as rougag with chicken, ibawen, and even delectable couscous with mutton, which is traditionally reserved from the celebration of Eid al-Adha. In certain regions, this feast is often linked with the customary practice of making zakat payments.
In various locations, it is not unusual to witness street carnivals where people are adorned in special attire in honor of the occasion. Women and children traditionally embellish themselves with henna, while other participants don sharp-toothed masks as part of their festive attire.
Bahrain is the country with the biggest Shia Muslim population in the Persian Gulf, so Ashura is commemorated with so many unique traditions. In their mosques, they would impart knowledge about Imam Hussein’s life. Food is also given to the homeless and those who are out on the streets.
During the entire month, a series of daily processions, referred to as Azadari, take place. These processions encompass diverse forms, such as individuals beating their chests, engaging in self-flagellation using chains, and even striking themselves with swords or knives, which is known as Haidar. Additionally, passion plays and reenactments of the Day of Ashura are performed as part of these processions.
In Bangladesh, Ashura is solemnly observed, and Shia Muslims commemorate the day through various rituals, including processions, mourning practices, and self-flagellation, as a way to express their grief for the martyrdom of Imam Hussain.
Within Shia communities in Bangladesh, Ashura is marked by processions that occur in cities and towns across the country. These processions involve mourners dressed in black, carrying banners, and reciting elegies and prayers to mourn the tragic death of Imam Hussain. Some Shia Muslims also partake in self-flagellation, a practice involving the striking of oneself with chains or blades, as a symbolic demonstration of their grief.
In addition to the processions, Shia Muslims in Bangladesh hold Majlis, religious gatherings where the life and martyrdom of Imam Hussain are recounted through speeches and poetry. These Majlis are often conducted in mosques or community centers and may conclude with communal meals where people come together to share food and foster a sense of unity and solidarity.
Ashura is a significant holiday in many Muslim nations, and the Mourning of Muharram is a set of rituals mostly performed by Shia Muslims, who make up about 15%-20% of the population in Pakistan.
Shia Muslims in Pakistan primarily lament during this time as they remember Imam Hussein and his family’s passing by withholding participation in festive occasions. To observe this event, they would do a ritual such as oil-lamp lighting and praying. Black clothing is required for the rituals, which also involve abstinence, fasting, skin-cutting with knives and other sharp instruments, and solemn processions.