Ashura is interesting in anthropological point of view to see the Islamic believes and ceremonies of Iranians. In this article I suggest you to go to Bushehr where people perform special ethnic style mourning as well. the most famous Ashura Ceremony in my country!
What is Ashura Ceremony?
Have you ever been in a ceremony to remember a man who died thousand years ago? This may sound strange to non-Iranians, but to the majority of Iran, it’s an annual occurrence. The mournful, nation-wide sadness is called Muharram and it is all in memory of the death of Imam Hussain, the Profit Muhammad’s Grandson.
Millions of Shia Muslims throughout the region take to the streets and publicly display their mourning for Imam Husain, who was killed in Karbala, Iraq in 680 A.D.
The ceremonies last 10 days, but the country remains in a state of mourning for as long as two months! No music is played in the streets and public displays of happiness would be considered inappropriate during this time.
The main, 10 day commemoration culminates to the final day of Ashura when the crowds on the street reach almost unimaginable proportions.
Bushehr, the most famous city to feel Ashura in Iran!
I was in Bushehr for the final day of Ashura and it was an extraordinary ambiance of pure heart-broken sorrow, all based around a holy man who died centuries ago. Thousands of men openly sobbed while hitting themselves. Lined in perfect rows, they repeated ancient hymns as they navigated through the closed-off streets.The entire ceremony was so intense that it is impossible to describe with words.
One thing that I loved the most about Bushehr Ashura ceremony, was Sinj and Dammam which is a traditional Mourning ritual practiced in southern parts of Iran, especially in this city. In this ritual, people hold a ceremony with playing Damam, Sinj, and horns. According to historical accounts, Sinj and Damam entered Bushehr from India or Africa. You could feel the rhythm coming from the beats that they play on Instruments by your heart!
What is Dammam and Sinj?
In every ritual of Damam and Sinj, there are about seven Damams and eight Sinjes with a person in the middle to handle them.
In the procession of Damam-players there is a forerunner known as “Ishkunzan”; a soloist whose uniform beats are different from those of other Damams. Other Damam-players stand in two rows, and in front of each is a person known as “Ghimbir” who is imitated by other Damam-players.
Sinj-players are also divided into two groups: four Sinj-players stand on top of the Damams and four others stand beside the lower Damams.
Another part of the ritual is the Horn, which is not essential. It functions as a coordinator between Damam-players and announces the beginning and the end of Damam-playing. some people says it reminds the war horn between Imam and the enemies!
Free Food, anyone is interested?
Ashura day isn’t just all doom and gloom. In the evenings, the rich give to the poor in an amazing display of generosity. Free meals are on every corner, where people cook massive vats of food and hand it out in the streets.
In Bushehr, you could find special meal named “Gheime Boushehri” as one of the best traditional food that I’ve ever had.
Why you should get the experience?
I recommend you to be in Bushehr, If you’re traveling to Iran during this time of the year. You will learn that the culture of martyrdom in Iran is still as alive as ever. you will witness an incredible level of faith that is possibly unmatched anywhere else on earth.
I would say It’s quite an opportune time to be in the country to witness something so cultural significant and unique. Given that information that we have some other special occasion in the country, Maybe you’re interested to know what is another special occasion in Iran, you can read to know how is Traveling to Iran during Ramadan.