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The Rites And Spectacle Of Ashura

Ashura, the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, is among the holiest days on the Shi'ite calendar. It is a day of mourning marked by dramatic displays of passion and faith by Shi'a -- including recitations and processions, reenactments of a key battle in Islamic history at Karbala, and massive scenes of self-flagellation and chest beating -- to honor the suffering and death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Hussein, in his seventh-century bid to challenge the Umayyad caliphate. Beatific images of Imam Hussein are conspicuous among Shi'ite participants in ceremonies.