4 Mar

A Girl and Her Thumb

Tabriz, 22-24th November, 2012

Blood in the Fountain


There ‘s probably no worse time to enter Iran than the day before Ashura. The country’s devout masses are out every night, literally whipping themselves up into a frenzy with chains and lashes; all of the shops are closed and there’s blood in the fountain in the centre of Tabriz.

It’s not real blood, of course, but Milad pretends it is as he fills his plastic cup with some and pretends to drink it – “Aren’t I sacrilegious?” he giggles. The cup is recently emptied of tea, one of many food and drink give-aways around the city. This is definitely the best thing about Ashura.

Having never travelled in a Shi’a country before, I knew little of Ashura. My host’s mother, a devout Muslim, asked if I’d heard of the terrible tragedy? Imam Husayn has been murdered! It was a while before I…

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