Journeying on Foot to Karbala

Journeying on Foot to Karbala
Journeying on Foot to Karbala

The Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization has notified that people wanting to visit the holy sites in Iraq during Arba’een Hosseini should refer to the offices of pilgrimage services across the country to register their visit.

Arba’een (“forty” in Arabic) or Chehelom (Persian:  “the fortieth [day]”), is a Shia Muslim religious observance that occurs 40 days after  Ashura, which commemorates the martyrdom of Hussein bin Ali,(AS) the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and falls on the 20th day of the month of Safar ( the second month of the Islamic calendar). Imam Hussein and his 72 companions were martyred in the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH (680 CE).

Journeying on foot towards Karbala during Arba’een Hosseini, is a religious ceremony held annually and attended by millions of pilgrims from Iraq and other Muslim countries, after the fall of the Baathist regime in Iraq. A few days before Arba’een, people throughout Iraq start converging on the shrine of Imam Hussein and try to reach Karbala on the day of Arba’een. Many may not reach and have to return to their hometown disappointed. The high surge of pilgrims towards and also in the holy city prevents many pilgrims from entering Karbala.

Iranian pilgrims attend the ceremony in large numbers annually, and many travel individually without registering in any caravan. Last year, the Iraqi government established facilities to issue visa on the Iran-Iraq border. This created many problems for those wishing to attend the Arba’een rituals and also led to “misuse by many opportunists,” according to ISNA.

  Disruption in Services

Apart from this problem, large accumulation of pilgrims at land borders paralyzes public service systems in the border cities; so much so that it causes disruption in providing even basic needs and facilities for the city residents.

Therefore, the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization decided to establish a headquarters for Arba’een rituals and even requested the ‘Rahiyan Nour’ and ‘Reconstruction Organization of Holy Shrines in Iraq to take advantage of their capabilities to facilitate visits by pilgrims from both sides.

The organization has urged prospective pilgrims to register themselves. The notification is as follows: applicants should register at pilgrimage service offices across the country (opened from November 11) in organized groups to be dispatched to the holy shrines during Arba’een Hosseni.

Applicants have to pay a registration fee of $5, charged by agencies, and $40 as visa fee. The insurance and medical services for pilgrims during Arba’een are free and no fee will be charged. Passport of pilgrims must have a minimum of 4 months validity.

The date and the time of pilgrims’ presence at the border will be determined; therefore they must confirm both in advance. The pilgrims will be dispatched via 3 borders of Mehran, Shalamcheh and Chazabeh.