Despite the many religious festivals in Iran the most important one for Iranians is observed in Moharam (around Feb,March). Moharam is the the first month of the Islamic calendar and on the 10th day it is said that Imam Hussein, the third Imam, and 72 of his followers were killed for their beliefs. His family was captured by the enemy army and this very day marks the beginning of Ashura. Every year during this month Muslims mourn to keep alive the memory of the Imam and his martyrdom. The mourning rituals of Ashura are very different in each part of Iran. Ceremonies have grown out of the history and culture of each region over the centuries.
It is however a norm to see men make pools of mud by digging dirt out of the ground and returning some of the loose soil, mixed with water, creating mud baths in the city of Khorramabadi. The sight of the men moving around the brown pools, scooping up the mud and slapping it on to themselves begins to look like a dance. A fire is started and they stand around it until the sun rises, as the mud dries and tightens its grip on their bodies. Here are some pictures of this interesting ritual.