Last Thursday, I had an experience I will never forget. Some friends and I went to a southern Lebanese mountain town called Nabatiyeh. The town is Shiamuslim and is known for celebrating Ashura in a very…. Honestly, I’m not quite sure how to describe it.
Ashura is a day where Shia’s commemorate Imam Ali Hussein and his murder. All around that world Shiamuslims gather and hold big processions. To show sympathy with the pain Imam Ali felt they hit themselves on the chest and head while chanting. But some Shia Muslims choose to go one step further. They cut themselves on the top of their heads and then keep hitting the same place to keep the blood flowing.
Pictures from Ashura gatherings can be quite gruesome. In fact, many Shia leaders have forbidden the practice of shedding blood. Hizballah doesn’t allow it, which is why if you stay in Dahiyeh (Beirut’s southern suburbs and a Hizballah stronghold) you won’t see any blood. The exact opposite goes for Nabatiyeh.
Beneath are some of the pictures that I took in Nabatiyeh. If you don’t like the sight of blood, stop right here! Some of the pictures are very graphic. However, I must stress that the atmosphere was amazing! Even though Ashura is supposed to be a sad event there was a feeling of joy and togetherness that I have rarely seen any other place.
So for those of you with strong stomachs: Enjoy this little glimpse into Ashura Nabatiyeh style.