This is a very well put together visual documentary of Ashura celebrations around the world in 2011.
The Ashura is celebrated on the 10th of Muharram by Shi’i Muslims every year to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain in Karbala. These Ashura celebrations are grounded in symbolism or ritual which is expressed in the public sphere, and in many ways have become a distinct manifestation of the Shi’i identity. In this sense it is interesting to note the great extent to which the Ashura has come to represent the ‘face’ of the Shi’i faith. The theme of martyrdom and suffering is predominant in the Shia narrative because it is seen as being embodied in the lives of the Shi’i Imams themselves and sums up what has been described unwittingly as the ‘Shia attitude’. How this ‘attitude’ plays out in various different cultural and social setting can be assuaged from the diverse interpretations of the Ashura commemoration around the world, as the visuals presented in this photo-feature show.
It is also worth noting the physical commemorations of the Ashura at times seems to overshadow the spiritual aspects of the message of the sacrifice of Karbala. Another thought provoking article written by Professor Hassan Abbas recently, juxtaposes the historical narrative of Imam Hussain’s martyrdom and the larger message of the Ashura in Shia Islam with the present context of the widespread persecution of Shia Muslims in the Muslim world such as the attack on Shi’a Muslims observing Ashura in Kabul on December 6, which killed 55 people.