BAGHDAD — Shiites all over the world, particularly in Iraq with its Shiite majority, started their religious commemorations on Oct. 14 marking the beginning of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar and one of the four sacred months of the year. The commemorations last for 10 days, during which mourning rituals, condolence gatherings and rituals in remembrance of the Battle of Karbala take place. The battle happened more than 1,300 years ago, in 680, when the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein ibn Ali was killed.
The mourning rituals reach a climax on the day of Ashoura, the tenth day of Muharram. Arbaeen marks the anniversary of the end of the 40-day mourning period for the death of Imam Hussein and is commemorated by visiting Imam Hussein's Shrine in Karbala.