Millions of Shia Muslims are flocking to Iraq to hold mourning rituals on Arba’een, Press TV reports.
The event, which falls on December 13 this year, marks 40 days after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (peace be upon him), the third Shia Imam, who is the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Imam Hussein and 72 of his loyal companions, including family members, were martyred on Ashura, the tenth day of the lunar month of Muharram, in the battle of Karbala against the second Umayyad caliph, Yazid I, in 680 A.D. Imam Hussein was killed after he refused to pledge allegiance to the tyrant ruler.
The number of Arba’een pilgrims reportedly hit 20 million in 2013. Iraqi officials expect the turnout for this year’s Arba’een procession to be higher than last year’s.
The Iranian Embassy in Iraq has announced that until December 7 some 1.1 million Iranians entered Iraq to attend the annual mourning services.
“We want to show Imam Hussein that we love him… He had given whatever he had because of us and because of Islam,” said a pilgrim on his way to Iraq’s holy city of Karbala.
Another pilgrim, who introduced herself as Soheila from Tanzania, said that she is a member of a group of 350 from different countries on a spiritual journey to Karbala.