Traveling Iran during Muharram

Muharram, the first month of the lunar year, has great value among Muslims. In commemoration of the Prophet Mohammad grandson’s martyrdom, Hussein ibn Ali, all Shia Muslims and believers take part in mourning ceremonies.
Prophet Muhammad’s family took part in an injustice battel against Yazid, the caliph of the Umayyad caliphate, about 1400 years ago. In the battle which held in Karbala plain, men were head cut, women and children were captives and hostages took to Dameshgh in Syria with humility.

For their bravery and oppressed manners, Shia Muslims in Iran and all over the world mourn from 1st of Muharram and it’s climaxing in the 10th of Muharram, the martyrdom day. People engage in mourning rituals by gathering at mosques, crying over Hussein ibn Ali’s martyrdom and do chest-beating and zanjeer zani.
Each city in Iran has its mourning rituals due to their cultures and traditions.

  • Yazd: Yazd is known for their special ritual of “Nakhl gardani”. Nakhl in Persian means palm but it has got nothing on a palm tree. It is actually a great wooden coffin decorated with mirrors, lights, and swords and rotating by the group of mourners as the symbol of Hussein ibn Ali’s coffin.
  • Mashhad: A large group of mourners gathers in Imam Reza’s holy shrine. At the eve of the 10th of Muharram, they hold candles, sing religious songs and cry.
  • Zanjan: Zanjan is known as the capital of Muharram mournings. At the beginning of Muharram, all people wear black clothes. Great punctual carnivals at the great mosque of the city are extraordinary.
  • Bushehr: They play especial traditional drums called Dammam. This ritual is held in the south part of Iran include Bushehr and Ahvaz.
  • Lorestan: In some west part of the country they hold an interesting and weird tradition as well. They make a large container of soil and rosewater and covered themselves in the mud. Then, they go on mourning carnivals.

Distributing Nazri, an offering food, among mourners and mostly poor people is common in every part of Iran.
Moreover, you could watch Tazie, a theatrical re-enactment of the Battle of Karbala. Its antiquity goes back to the Qajar era and is quite popular among Iranians.

On the 9th and 10th of Muharram which is called Tasua and Ashura, almost every place like museums are closed but restaurants and groceries are mostly open.
If you are hesitating whether to travel Iran during Muharram or not, don’t lose the chance of this annual must-visit ceremony.