Millions of pilgrims from around the world are in the holy Iraqi city of Karbala on the eve of Arba’een, which marks the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shia Imam.
The pilgrims have arrived in the city on foot, by cars, buses and many other means from Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Bahrain, Pakistan and countries as far as Nigeria.
The religious ceremony marks the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Imam Hussain (PBUH).
According to Iraqi authorities, some 17 million people have already arrived in the holy city and three million more are expected for Saturday.
The Arba’een ceremony, which is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, falls on December 13 this year.
Iraqi forces have tightened security to protect the pilgrims against terrorist attacks. The Iraqi government has also adopted measures for an easier evacuation of pilgrims from Karbala.
Imam Hussain (PBUH) and his 72 companions were martyred in the battle of Karbala on the day of Ashura in 680 CE, after refusing to pledge allegiance to the tyrant ruler of his time.