Internet brings Muharram rituals in Yazd to whole world

TEHRAN, Aug. 28 (MNA) – Religious tourism, which had been flourishing Yazd for years, seems to be affected by the pandemic, but the fact is that this year, the internet is hosting thousands of foreign tourists to observe the rituals in Yazd.

The unique mourning ceremonies and the Ashura rituals held each year during the months of Muharram and Safar in the historical city of Yazd have made this central Iranian province the center of attention of foreign media and tourists for years.

Every year on the eve of Muharram, a group of foreign tourists would travel to this province to watch the mourning rituals held in Iran's Hosseinieh and to closely observe the love and devotion of the people of this desert region to the ruler of the martyrs of Karbala, Hazrat Aba Abdullah Al-Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The role of Yazd in introducing Ashura culture to different parts of the world

You could find very few mourning ceremonies in Yazd where at least one group of tourists did not sit in a corner, watching the mourning and listening to the sorrowful, poetic recitations in honor of the martyrs of the Battle of Karbala, and performed to the tune of beating drums and chants of "Ya Hussain".

Foreign tourists were particularly fond of watching the mourning processions in Yazd, and each year a large number of photos and videos taken of the rituals were broadcast around the world, which would effectively make these tourists the real cultural ambassadors of Ashura.

The rich culture of Ashura and the message of this great uprising were thus spread all over the world for many years, and the number of foreign tourists who became more and more eager to watch the love and devotion for Imam Hussein (PBUH) in Yazd increased year after year.

The mourning rituals on the first ten days of Muharram, without the need for a serious effort by an organization or institution, gradually turned to religious tourism in Yazd and flourished day by day to the point that there was no room left for accommodation in Yazd during Muharram last year.

Prosperity of religious tourism in Yazd

This unique and enthusiastic welcome for the mourning rituals of Muharram in Yazd led to the establishment of an international secretariat called "Yazd, Iran’s Hosseinieh", which is in charge of organizing the presence of tourists – these ambassadors of Ashura culture – in the mourning ceremonies held in the province.

“Last year, more than 250 foreign tourists from different countries attended the mourning ceremony of the first ten days of Muharram in Yazd,” the head of the International Secretariat of Yazd, Iran’s Hosseinieh told Mehr News Agency.

Seyed Hassan Hosseini continued, “Hundreds of cultural packages with the focus on introducing the Ashura event as well as cultural products of Yazd related to Ashura were distributed among these tourists.”

He said, "The number of foreign tourists from Germany, China, Ukraine, the Netherlands, France, Norway, and other countries has increased over the years, and this has led to more serious planning in Iran’s Hosseinieh for a more effective presence of foreign tourists in the first ten days of Muharram when the rituals are taking place."

This year, however, the situation was different, and the coronavirus pandemic reduced the presence of foreign tourists in Yazd to almost zero.

Although foreign tourists do not have a physical presence at the event this year, those who had watched the mourning ceremony last year have maintained their contact with Iran’s Hosseinieh and continue to observe the ceremonies through other means.  

Last year, 250 foreign tourists watched the rituals in Yazd, but this year, it’s thousands of people from all over the world who are watching the ceremonies on the internet.

The pandemic has moved some of Yazd's gathering of mourners known as ‘heyat’ (literally meaning group or delegation) to the internet, where the mourning ceremonies are broadcast live on social media such as Instagram for all people to see.

Although this year the enemies took to the internet to spread anti-Ashura sentiments by saying that the ceremonies would further spread the coronavirus and wrote thousands of analyses on the subject, we saw that the love and devotion for Imam Hussein managed to overcome and defeat even the deadly coronavirus as the ceremonies switched from their physical venues to the virtual cyberspace.

A large number of heyats now active on social media

The head of the International Secretariat of Yazd, Iran’s Hosseinieh said, “This year, a large number of heyats in Yazd province have become active on social networks, especially on Instagram, and some of them, in addition to sharing videos and photos of the rituals, have been going live.”

Seyed Hassan Hosseini added, "Many tourists who had attended the ceremonies in Yazd last year were invited to these Instagram pages, and during the live broadcast, we see great feedback from them.”

“The coronavirus has not stopped the promotion of Ashura culture and the mourning of Muharram is now shared with the world in new formats,” he stressed.

New ways to convey the message of the Ashura to the world

The Director-General of Islamic Development Organization of Yazd told Mehr News Agency, "We will not allow the flag of mourning for Imam Hussein (PBUH) to remain on the ground and we will use new methods to convey the message of the Ashura movement to the world."

Hojjatoleslam Alireza Najimi added, "This year we saw a lot of creativity in holding mourning ceremonies. In addition to the people of Yazd and other parts of the Islamic world, tourists who had taken part in the Muharram ceremonies in Yazd years ago, are still benefiting from these programs thanks to the internet."

Emphasizing that the pandemic has been defeated by the love and devotion of the people of Yazd to Imam Hussein (PBUH) and the martyrs of Karbala, he added, "This year, we made great use of the capacity of the cyberspace to broadcast the ceremonies and we hope to be able to make even greater use of the internet for the rituals in the coming years.”

Perhaps this year, the physical presence of foreign tourists in Yazd mourning ceremonies has waned, but creativity in holding the mourning rituals during the pandemic has kept the flag of Ashura raised around the world, and today thousands of people across the world can easily observe the rituals via Instagram live.


News Code 162838


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