The first month of the Islamic calendar, Muharram is considered one of the holiest months, second only to Ramadan, though it is not associated with revelry or celebration. The word “Muharram” derived from the word ‘haram’ means forbidden and holds great significance for the Muslims. The date for Muharram keeps shifting every year as the the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar. This year it started on September 21 and will continue till October 19.
The month of Muharram is marked by mourning as Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein Ibn Ali, along with his friends and family members, were martyred during this month in the Battle of Karbala. During the first ten days of the month, Shia Muslims, in their bid to recreate the pain of Ali and his deceased family members, flagellate themselves and beat their chest. Their actions are marked by expression of intense grief and lament. Few Muslims also observe fast on the ninth and tenth day of the month, and a lot of emphasis is laid on gratitude and abstinence.