Ashura Festival

Shia in Yangon don’t mess about.

Warning: Photos include blood, children, and bloody children. Tbh I wouldn’t recommend looking if you have any doubts.

The Shia Muslim festival of Ashura creates a very public and gory spectacle of mourning each year. In most countries there’s not as much blood as there is in Yangon. Ashura is the 10th day of the first month; related events happen in the lead up to it, and 40 days after for Arba’een.

Day 7 — Punja Mosque. Three days before Ashura, this fire-walking happens at one of the mosques in downtown Yangon.

I think only the boys are allowed to do the fire walking; the girls got this sheet held near them and the hot ashes kinda spooned up in their general direction.

After all the men in white with banners had done their thing (maybe 10 times across each?) it seemed like anyone else who wanted a go could.

I liked this guy's skinnies.

Day 9 — Procession through downtown Yangon from Mogul Mosque on 30th St to Punja on 38th, past the city’s famous Sule Pagoda and along one of the busiest roads. There were a few traffic police around who helped out, but otherwise the city just kept going on around them.

And then back again at night. Both times carrying elaborate Tazia (replica coffins) and well-dressed horses.

Last warning about blood. I was a bit traumatised taking these.

The haidar started when the procession reached Mogul Mosque.
There was a kindly man making sure that the kids were ok. He was also helping them by opening fresh razor blades and showing them how to use them properly.
The vast majority of the people taking part were chanting and beating their chests with flat palms. The intensity of the chants was electric.

Day 10 — Ashura

After 12 o’clock prayers, the streets around Mogul Mosque filled up, chanting began again, and there were processions between meeting halls.
Dude's been doing it for a while
Little fella came over to his family at the end. These eyes contain so much.
Everything came to an end at Mogul Mosque and the whole procession moved down 3 or 4 blocks.
Ha! This tourist had just arrived in Yangon that morning.
Didn't notice the missing digit when I was taking the photo. Unsure if related.
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