Muslims take part in religious festival of Ashura to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein [GRAPHIC]

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During the Shi’ite Muslim holy month of Muharram, worshippers from India to Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan participate in the religious festival of Ashura. Ashura, the tenth day in the mourning period, commemorates the death anniversary of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, who was killed during a battle in A.D. 680 in Karbala. Mourners celebrate the occasion by participating in large processions, re-enacting major battle events or self-flagellating themselves with knives to mark the anniversary.

NOTE: Photos contain visual coverage of injury and blood that may be disturbing to some readers.

Thousands take part in Ashura rituals in south Lebanon
Mohammed Zaatari | The Lebanon Daily Star | Distributed by MCT Information Services
10:34 a.m. EST, November 25, 2012

NABATIEH, Lebanon — Thousands marched through the streets of Nabatieh, south Lebanon, Sunday as part of Ashura Day amid tightened security measures.

Security forces, on a heightened state of alert after reports of a possible attack on mourners, prevented vehicles from entering the city, where throngs of Shiite worshipers took part in Ashoura rituals.

Five Syrians were caught Saturday in the city setting up explosives in a an apparent bomb plot aimed at the faithful there, security sources told The Daily Star.

With blood streaming down their faces, men, some women and children, listened intently as a preacher known by his first name as Ahmad recounted the story of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, who tradition holds was killed in 680 A.D. by the armies of the Caliph Yazid.

Millions of Shiite pilgrims flocked Sunday to Karbala, Iraq, where the revered imam is buried.

Prior to the march that began at 7 a.m., all eyes were turned to a stage set up in Nabatieh where performers reenacted Imam Hussein’s battle and his final hours.

The worshipers were keen to dispel any misinterpretation of the rituals, some of which include lacerations to the head.

“The media portrays us as criminals but we want to clarify that this mourning we do is for the love of the community,” said worshiper Khalil Hammoush while carrying his crying son who also had an incision to the head.

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