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  Updated: January 7, 2009

Millions crying, gashing heads, shedding blood mark Ashura in Karbala

By: Ismail Zabeeh

KARBALA, Iraq: Assalamo Alal Hussein Assalamo Ala Auladil Hussein Assalamo Ala Ashaabil Hussein Marking Ashura, the tenth day of Moharram, which falls this year in Iraq on January 7 Wednesday, more than four million Husseini mourners from across the world swarmed the shrine city of Karbala in central Iraq amid tight security to pay homage to unmatched sacrifice rendered by Al-Imam Al-Hussein (AS) and his 72 faithful companions in the scorching desert of Karbala for defense of religion and safety of high human values.

30,000 troops were deployed to guard the mourners in Karbala only.

Crying men and even young boys in flowing white robes marched towards the holy shrines of Al-Imam Al-Hussein (AS) and Al-Abbas (AS) with blood streaming down their faces after slashing their scalps open with knifes to signify their deep grief on the unjust slaughter of Al-Imam al-Hussein (AS) at the hands of Yazidi forces 13 centuries ago.

Other mourners pounded on their chests while chanting wa Husseinaa wa Husseinaa accompanied by drummers and horn players.

Many carry models of wooden ships and little lamps that symbolise Hussein as their guiding light or salvation. Megaphones blast the poetic incantations of the battle as green- and red-robed horsemen gallop through the streets.

Hundreds of thousands gathered at other holy shrines in Najaf, Kadhimiyah and Samarra.

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