KARBALA (IRAQ): A group of 150 people, including 20 members from Hyderabad, and others from Visakhapatnam, Nagpur, Ujjain and other parts of India, are part of a congregation of millions from around the world in the city of Karbala, Iraq. According to estimates, over 30 million persons had gathered for the pilgrimage this year, which marked the 40th day of Imam Hussain’s martyrdom and culminated on October 19.
The members belong to the Atba-e-Malak-Badar community, devout followers of Ahle-Bait led by His Holiness Amiruddin Malak. They took part in the tradition of walking 80 km from Imam Ali’s shrine in Najaf to Imam Hussain’s shrine in Karbala — that takes place every Muharram and is known as the Arbaeen walk.
This Ziyarat is billed as the world’s largest annual peaceful public gathering with the number of pilgrims steadily rising every year. People from all over the world and from all faiths (3.5 million from Iran) are in the cities of Najaf and Karbala.
According to local officials, visitors from 90 countries took part in this walk. Mazhar Virani, director, ACF Tourism Rediscovery Begins, who has been organising tours here for past 12 years, said over 5 lakh Indian pilgrims took part in the 'walk of allegiance'. "This walk is now the largest annual peaceful gathering in the world," commented Archbishop of Tbilisi, Malkhaz Songulashvili while participating in the walk.
"Not just the 10 days of Muharram, but the entire 40-day period is one of intense piety and communal solidarity for Shia Muslims," explained HH Amiruddin Malak. Alongside millions of devotees from around the world, they marked the Day of Arbaeen (Arabic for ‘forty’) by mourning the tragedy that befell Imam Hussain, his family and his companions at the battle of Karbala.
“It is a unique pilgrimage in that a pilgrim does not need to spend a single penny during the Walk,” said Hasan Mahdi, director of ‘Hussain For All’, a research group from Mumbai, making a documentary in Iraq. There is security at regular intervals and even women, would walk the streets throughout the night. Despite the imminent threat of terrorists, people from all corners of the globe made this journey.
A brief history of the Arbaeen Walk
Lovers of Imam Husain from all over the globe, commemorate his martyrdom by holding processions, gatherings and lectures all over the world. After the Battle of Karbala, the forces of tyrannical ruler Yazid took the women and children of the Imam Hussain’s family as captive. The Day of Arbaeen is the day on which Hussain’s family returned to the land of Karbala, to properly bid farewell to the fallen heroes and grieve the separation from their native land