Karbala, Oct 19: Millions of pilgrims are making their way on foot to the Iraqi city of Karbala for the annual Shiite pilgrimage of Arbaeen, after trekking about 70 kilometers from the holy city of Najaf in a symbolic gesture honoring Imam Hussein (AS).
Saturday’s commemoration includes more than 2 million Iranians and other Shiites from abroad.
This year’s Arbaeen ceremonies take place amid widespread anger in Iraq’s Shiite over the government’s heavy crackdown on protests that erupted earlier this month against unemployment, corruption and government mismanagement, news reports said.
Arbaeen is regarded as the one of the largest annual public gathering in the world.
On Twitter, Firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr called Tuesday evening for “Iraqis on the move” toward Karbala for the Arbaeen pilgrimage “to mobilize by the millions.”
“March draped in your shrouds… and chant on Arbaeen: No to America! No to Israel! No to the corrupt!” Sadr wrote.
The commemoration marks the end of a period of mourning for Imam Hussein, a founding figure in Shiite Islam.
The annual Arbaaen pilgrimage sees millions of worshipers, mostly Iraqis and Iranians, converge by foot on Karbala, 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Baghdad.
“Foreign pilgrims from other countries also participate in the event, with tens of thousands entering Iraq notably from countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Lebanon,” Iqna reports.The pilgrims are greeted by the generous hospitality of the Iraqi people, who provide them with food, water, transport and accommodation needed for the journey.