INTRODUCTION: Thousands of Iranians throughout the country took part in street processions and ceremonies to mark Ashura - one of the holiest dates in the Islamic calendar.
SV Line of Iranians performing self-flagellation.
SV Band playing.
SV Iranians self-flagellating.
SCU PULL BACK TO GV People re-enact the martyrdom of Hussain.
SCU PULL BACK TO GV Man playing part of Hussain.
GV Procession led by child.
SV Men carrying float with doves.
SCU Man playing Hussain carrying emblems.
SV Mourners carrying fake coffin with doves.
SV & GV Self-flagellation watched by crowd.(2 SHOTS)
SV Children self-flagellating.
AERIAL VIEW AND PAN Crowd gathered in square for ceremony.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: Thousands of Iranians throughout the country took part in street processions and ceremonies to mark Ashura - one of the holiest dates in the Islamic calendar. The date is the 10th day of the first month of the Islamic calendar and commemorates the martyrdom of Iman Hussain, a grandson of the prophet Mohammad, in a battle about 1,400 years ago with the forces of a Moslem ruler.
SYNOPSIS: In Teheran, up to half a million people gathered in Hussain Square to commemorate the martyrdom. Many people performed self-flagellation. It is considered a symbol of self-purification for the glory of Islam. There was also a band.
The feast has particular reference for the Shi'ite Moslems since it derives from disputes early in the history of the faith when they were engaged in prolonged conflict with the majority Sunnis.
A man playing the part of Hussain is the central part of the procession. To the Shi'ites, Hussain was the rightful successor to Mohammad. He was killed in the year 61 Hirji on the Moslem calendar in what is now Iraq after a battle between the Shi'ites and the Sunnis.
During the gathering, free food was distributed among the mourners, particularly to the poor according to a vow made to God. For some of the faithful, it is an anniversary to be remembered with blood -- their own. The self-flagellation is a reminder of the death of Hussain. Grief-stricken people took to the streets carrying banners, black flags and Shi'ite emblems. Even the children joined in the self-flagellation.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians filled the square over the two days of the religious ceremonies. The feast of Ashoura is commemorated in many other countries, and is one of the most important dates in Islam.