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Moroccans feast, light up sky on Shiite holy day

Updated : 2019-09-15 14:50:50

Women thrumming drums, children devouring rich pastries, red flares lighting up the sky — these are telltale signs that Moroccans are marking Ashoura. The holy day commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. While he was one of Shiite Islam's most important figures, the holiday is also marked in some largely Sunni countries like Morocco.

In most places, Ashoura is an emotional time in remembrance of the historic events that led to Hussein's death, however, in Morocco, religious and cultural traditions give the day a unique celebratory atmosphere. Families gather at home to eat a variety of sweets, dried fruits, and pastries that are served up throughout the Ashoura week. Traditional couscous meals with meat and vegetables are cooked, as women sing songs that are chanted to the beat of newly-bought Taarejs, colourful drums which are given as gifts to children. Girls get traditional henna tattoos for the occasion.

Boys stand atop a hill where a bonfire is lit in celebration of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. On September 9, the Arab and Muslim world marked Ashura, a day commemorating the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and one of Shia Islam's most important figures. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Boys stand atop a hill where a bonfire is lit in celebration of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. On September 9, the Arab and Muslim world marked Ashura, a day commemorating the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and one of Shia Islam's most important figures. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Girls carry a tray and play with drums outside their home to collect treats and dry fruits, in celebration of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat .(AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Girls carry a tray and play with drums outside their home to collect treats and dry fruits, in celebration of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat .(AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Youths, mostly football ultras, light flares in celebration of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco.  (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Youths, mostly football ultras, light flares in celebration of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco.  (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
People shop for dry fruits at a shop in celebration of Ashura, in Salé, near Rabat, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
People shop for dry fruits at a shop in celebration of Ashura, in Salé, near Rabat, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A youth pours kerosene over tires to light a bonfire in celebration of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A youth pours kerosene over tires to light a bonfire in celebration of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A boy wearing a vendetta mask drags a tire to be lit in a bonfire as part of Ashura celebrations. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A boy wearing a vendetta mask drags a tire to be lit in a bonfire as part of Ashura celebrations. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Women and children gather at a home to celebrate the occasion of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Women and children gather at a home to celebrate the occasion of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A child runs with a sparkler as a bonfire is lit in the distance in celebration of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco.(AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A child runs with a sparkler as a bonfire is lit in the distance in celebration of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco.(AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Girls carry a tray outside their home to collect treats and dry fruits, in celebration of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat.(AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Girls carry a tray outside their home to collect treats and dry fruits, in celebration of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat.(AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Woman and children eat dried fruits and treats at a home to celebrate the occasion of Ashura, in Sale. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Woman and children eat dried fruits and treats at a home to celebrate the occasion of Ashura, in Sale. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A young girl gets a henna tattoo to celebrate the occasion of Ashura. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A young girl gets a henna tattoo to celebrate the occasion of Ashura. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Youths, mostly football ultras, light flares in celebration of Ashura. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Youths, mostly football ultras, light flares in celebration of Ashura. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Youths and children react during the celebration of Ashura. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Youths and children react during the celebration of Ashura. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Youths react during the celebration of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco.  (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Youths react during the celebration of Ashura, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco.  (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
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