The veneration of the standards during the Muharram Festival
Watercolour of the veneration of the standards during the Muharram Festival by an unknown artist, part of the Hyde Collection, c. 1790-1800.
The Muharram festival commemorates the popular saint Imam Husain, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson and the spiritual leader of the Shias who was martyred in 680 AD after a battle in Karbala. The festival starts on the 1st day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, and lasts for 10 days. It is celebrated with lavishly decorated tazivas (bamboo and paper replicas of the martyr’s tomb) which are carried through the streets of the city. Mourners beat their breasts accompanied by musicians, dancers and wrestlers who enact scenes depicting the battle.