Ashura Day in Derbent
Every year in Dagestan, Ashura Day (arab. ten) is celebrated en masse in Derbent, home to a large community of Shia Azerbaijanis.From the first day of the month of Muharram (according to the Muslim lunar calendar), mourning activities begin and last for ten days. Every day, after evening prayers, people gather in the courtyard of the Juma Mosque to listen to a sermon by the mosque’s imam. Then a group of men recite religious verses recounting the last days of the life of Imam Hussein and his companions. This goes on for nine evenings, each dedicated to one of the heroes of the events of Kerbela and their sufferings. On the tenth day (Ashura Day), the culminating events take place, after which the faithful observe forty days of mourning.
For Shia Muslims, Ashura is a day of mourning, which they accompany with ceremonies and rituals to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, son of Imam Ali and grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, along with his brother-bearer Abbas and seventy-two of their supporters in a battle with the forces of Caliph Yazid I in 680 (or 61 AH). The battle took place in present-day Iraq and is known as the Battle of Kerbela. According to tradition, all the events related to this tragedy took place during the first nine days of the month of Muharram, and Husayn’s death fell on the day of Ashura, so the commemorations last for ten days.