Ashura in the holy month of Muharram, Iran.

Shiites take to the streets during the holy month of Muharram to commemorate the death of the third Imam, Hussein, more than 1300 years ago in Karbala, Iraq. The Day of Ashura is an expiation day in which Muslims have the opportunity to redeem their minor sins. For weeks, the population of Iran slips into a state of sadness that is as contagious as it is intriguing. Numerous public displays of intense collective pain follow in processions throughout the cities, men’s rows dressed in black parade melancholy accompanied by recitals of poetry and music while beating the chest with different rhythms to the sound of the drums or are flagellated with chains liveras back to echo their suffering while the audience watches with devotion.

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