Almost two million Iranian pilgrims head into Iraq for Arbaeen

By AFP – Oct 28,2018 -JORDAN TIMES

Iranian Shiite Muslim pilgrims wave flags at the Mehran border point between Iran and Iraq, as they head towards the central Iraqi shrine city of Karbala, on Sunday, ahead of the Arbaeen religious festival (AFP photo)

MEHRAN, Iran — At the border town of Mehran between Iran and Iraq, a sea of pilgrims surges forwards, en route to one of the biggest religious pilgrimages on the planet.

Iranian organisers say more than 1.8 million Iraqi visas have been issued for Iranians this year for the Arbaeen pilgrimage which culminates on Tuesday as the devout head, many by foot, to Karbala and one of the holiest sites of Shiite Islam, the shrine of Imam Hussein.

Men and women, young and old, toddlers in prams and elderly pushed in wheelchairs — they converge from all over the Islamic republic.

“I go because my heart demands it of me, I go because of my love for Imam Hussein,” said Morteza Taghikhani, a 39-year-old auto worker, who had already been on the pilgrimage five times before.

His wife and young children were accompanying him for the first time: “They insisted on coming. Though it is a difficult trip, they’ve enjoyed it so much.”

The pilgrims stream past tents, called “mokebs”, which hand out free food ranging from scrambled eggs to boiled turnips. Full meals are served at midday and in the evenings.

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