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A group of shi'ite pilgrims during the mourning of muharram:
The Mourning of Muharram is an important period of mourning in the Shi'a branch of Islam, taking place in Muharram which is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is also called the Remembrance of Muharram. Many of the events associated with the remembrance take place in congregation halls known as Hussainia.
The event marks the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala when Imam Husayn ibn Ali, a grandson of Muhammad the founder of Islam, and a Shia Imam, was killed by the forces of the second Umayad caliph Yazid I. The event is marked by arranging 'majalis' (gatherings) to review Islamic teachings and to commemorate Husayn's sacrifice. The mourning reaches its climax on the tenth day, known as Ashura, on which the forces of Yazid killed the 72 individuals who fought, including Husayn and his family and supporters. The women and children left living were made prisoners and transported to Yazid's court in Damascus.
Many of the male and female participants congregate together in public for ceremonial chest beating (matam) as a display of their devotion to Imam Husayn and in remembrance of his suffering. In some Shi'a societies, such as those in Bahrain, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq, some male participants incorporate knives or razors swung upon chains into their matam
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