Millions of Iranians are holding nationwide rituals to commemorate Ashura, a day of mourning for the martyrdom of the third Imam of Shia Muslims, Hussein ibn Ali (PBUH).
According to Tasnim news agency, massive crowds of mourners took to the streets in Iran to pay tribute to Imam Hussein (PBUH), who devoted his life to Islam in a battle in Karbala in 680 AD.
Men, women and children, dressed in black, have been holding mourning ceremonies since ten days ago to mark the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (Blessings of God upon him and his progeny), and his uprising for justice.
Each year, the mourning rituals start with the Islamic lunar month of Muharram and reach their climax on the tenth day of the month, known as Ashura.
Iranians traditionally cook votive food (called Nazri) and distribute it among their neighbors, family and poor people. Free food is also offered to people who perform the mourning rites.
This year, however, mourning ceremonies are different as large gatherings have been banned due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In Iran, people are taking part in outdoor events while observing social distancing rules imposed to help slow the virus spread.
Similar mourning ceremonies are being held in other Shia communities across the world, including in Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain.
In a bid to avoid virus transmission, Iraq's Higher Committee for Health and Public Safety decided not to allow foreign pilgrims to enter the country and imposed a travel ban in its provinces.
The third Shias' Imam, along with 72 of his loyal companions, was martyred in a battle against the second Umayyad caliph, Yazid ibn Muawiyah, in the Iraqi region of Karbala, after he refused to pledge allegiance to the ruling tyrant.