The occasion, known as Ashura, marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussein and 72 of his companions in 680 AD in a land that is known today as Iraq, after they refused to pledge allegiance to the tyrant Yazid.
Ashura is the culmination of a 10-day annual mourning period in the lunar month of Muharram for the third Imam of Shia Muslims, who was a grandson of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him).
On Saturday, huge masses in Iran and other countries such as Pakistan and Yemen held mourning rituals on the ninth day of Muharram to mark Tasu’a, the ninth day of lunar month.
In Iran, devotees in cities, towns and villages across the country listened to elegies recounting the indescribably tragic events in the Battle of Karbala during which Imam Hussein and some members of his family and his companions were brutally massacred.
The Battle of Karbala between a small group of supporters and relatives of Imam Hussein and a larger military detachment from the forces of the Umayyad caliph represents the war as one between good and evil.
The rituals are observed in ultimate magnificence in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq, the latter of which hosts Imam Hussein's holy shrine.