Ashura is the most important feast of the Shi’ites. On the tenth day of the month of Muharram, Shi’ites all over the world recall the martyrdom of Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. The most renown celebrations are held in Karbala, Iraq, where in the year 61 of the Muslim calendar a bloody battle took place.
Until this day, Karbala’s celebration of the anniversary of the battle has remained a rather bloody affair. The media show photos of bleeding men and boys, pilgrims inflicting wounds on their heads and shoulders.
Those shocking photographs represent only the most sensational snippet of this celebration, a snippet banned by the Shi’a clerics. Those photos can’t show us the sounds, smells and vibrations dispersed amongst the praying people as they rhythmically strike their breasts. Pictures can’t help us hear the sound of the drums and the laughter of children running along the procession carrying huge metal installations resembling palm trees. Pictures don’t let us witness countless invitations for coffee or cold lemonade, nor can they convey the heat of hot asphalt nor the smell of rose water sprayed on the pilgrims.
Curator: Karolina Krzywicka