Arbaeen is an important festival for Shia Muslims, marking the end of 40 days of mourning to commemorate the massacre of the Imam Husain, the grandson of Mohammed, who along with his 72 companions were martyred at Karbala (now in Iraq) in 61AH (680 AD.)

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

An Arbaeen procession has taken place in London every year since 1982, and it is a moving and colourful occasion in which several thousand Muslim men and women take part. After prayers and speeches they processed along Park Lane chanting and beating their breasts as a symbol of mourning. While for most this is simply a symbol of their deep feelings of mourning, for some it has a powerfully physical aspect as well.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

In the procession were two large intricately carved metal models of Holy shrines (Shabbihs)  the cermemonial horse (Zuljanah) of Imam Husain and the cradle of Hazrat Ali Asghar, who only six months only was the youngest martyr at Karbala. There were also many standards, flags and banners.

© 2009 Peter Marshall

More about the event and more pictures on My London Diary

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