Ashura, celebration of Shia Muslims

An annual tradition of the Shi'a Muslims taking place in Athens. People mourning for the loss of a religious leader and hurt themselves.
Photography / Text: Michael Pappas

I find myself just behind the train station of Piraeus, looking to find the Shi'a Muslim club of Greece.

I saw a couple of people wearing the traditional clothes, so I figured they were heading that way. I followed them to the door of the club. 

The club is hosted in a basement. I took my shoes off and went down the stairs. I had arrived earlier and they were still preparing for the event. Some are cooking and the ones that will take part are sterilising the blades they brought together. Soon after, preying starts. 

We all went upstairs. The road was blocked with large cloth screens so that people passing by could not see the road. The participants take place along the street, take their shirts off and start by preying. Most of them sit on the road. Suddenly they stand up and spread out. They want to keep their distances so that they don't hurt each other. 

After the first couple of strikes, their backs are filled in blood. My heart starts beating faster. I get splashes of blood on my camera lens. I even get blood on my clothes and shoes. There is someone who will hold them down if they hurt themselves too much. Some of them are taken to a place near by to get stitches. I even saw children take part with great passion. 

At some point they are taking a horse with several ornaments out and move it around the people. Everyone rushes to touch it and worship it. 

The event ends by serving dinner inside the club. 

#hurt #leader #shi'a #muslims #self injury #whipping #preying #religious

Location

Ashura, celebration of Shia Muslims

Δήμητρας 12, Πειραιάς 185 40, Ελλάδα
Piraeus, Attica, Greece