This year's Moharram mourning ceremonies differ from previous years due to the outbreak of the coronavirus global epidemic.
Every year, Muslims across the globe, including in Iran, take to the streets in black clads mourning over Imam Hossein (AS) martyrdom, reading prose and poetry and beating their chests. But this year the National Coronavirus Combat and Prevention Headquarters in Iran issued a long list of strict orders for all religious bodies and Husseiniyahs (Imam Hossein Mourning Centers) across the country to observe anti-coronavirus and social-distancing protocols.
Mourners in Tehran dressed in black took to unroofed places considered by the health authorities as safe hygienically, beating their chests with bare hands-rituals and grieving the slaying of Imam Hossein (PBUH) while wearing masks and respecting the social-distancing rules.
Songs eulogizing Imam Hossein (PBUH) played over loudspeakers. Imam Hossein (PBUH) and his companions were denied water by their enemies who controlled the nearby Euphrates.
Similar processions were staged in other cities across the nation of over 80 million people.
Meantime, a large number of people across Iran commemorated Ashoura by watching and listening to grieving processions on TV and radio.
Ashoura marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram, marking the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)'s grandson, the revered Imam Hossein (PBUH) in the Battle of Karbala, in modern-day Iraq nearly 1,400 years ago.
Imam Hossein (PBUH) was martyred in the 680 A.D. battle fought on the plains outside Karbala, a city in modern Iraq that's home to the Imam's holy shrine.
In the battle, Imam Hossein (PBUH) was decapitated and his body mutilated by Yazid's armies. All of Imam Hossein (AS)'s male family members, relatives, friends, soldiers who all together formed a 72-member army were beheaded in an unequal war with a 30,000-strong army of the enemy in the desert of Karbala.
The occasion is the source of an enduring moral lesson for the Shiites.
Imam Hossein's martyrdom - recounted through a rich body of prose, poetry and song - remains an inspirational example of sacrifice to Shiites, who make up a majority of the Muslim population in Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and Bahrain.