Baghdad | WTNS | Sep 10:The holy city of Karbala, nestled in the heart of Iraq, is currently experiencing an unprecedented wave of devotion and spirituality as it hosts the annual commemoration of Arbaeen. This significant religious event, which honors the memory of Imam Hussein (AS), the grandson of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), has drawn an astonishing number of pilgrims, an estimate of 22 million.
Over one lakh Lovers of Ahlebayat from India had travelled to Karbala for Arbaeen, which means ‘forty’ and signifies the forty-day mourning period to be observed after someone’s death.
The pilgrimage route is via Najaf in central Iraq, which is around 160 km from capital Baghdad and 75 km from Karbala. Pilgrims reach the shrine by walking from Najaf. This can be difficult as day-time temperatures cross 45 degree Celsius and the journey can take three days.
The harmony, love and hospitality offered by the locals during this long march is heartwarming as no pilgrim experiences any problem en route. Camps are set up along the way that take care of everything from food and drink to medical care and other essentials.
Every house on the pilgrimage route maintains an open-door policy and even the Government of Iran opens its treasury to help support pilgrims. Indeed, many see Iran and Iraq working together as one of the biggest reasons for the success of the Arba’een Yatra. The fields and grounds were converted to open mosques during the time of prayers.
The pilgrimage is also important because Iraq suffered a violent civil war for nearly two decades, leaving it battered and broken and, in such a situation, the fact pilgrims can reach the country and mourn their spiritual leader, is seen as a positive message to the world.
This year, not only did more than one lakh Shia Muslims take part from India, they were also seen carrying the Indian flag at times. For their convenience arrangements were made for food and drink and special tents were set up at places, in which Indian food was provided.