18th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People
Mud and Mourning 2

Khorramabad, a city of around 400,000 sheltered among the Zagros mountains of southwestern Iran, has always done things a little differently on Ashura, the holiest day in Shiite Islam. Drawing on burial traditions in their native Lorestan province, the men cover themselves in mud as a sign of their grief over the death over 1,300 years ago of Imam Hossein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. It is unique to the area, and adds a slightly more festive spirit to a religious day that is known elsewhere in Iran for reducing the faithful to tears as they reflect on the tragic injustice of Hossein's final stand against rival claimants to the leadership of Islam -- a battle that remains at the heart of the split between Sunnis and Shiites.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 09.2018
Date Uploaded: 11.2020
Copyright: © Saeed Kouhkan