Thousands of men, women and children clad in black marched through downtown Sunday to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.Hussein's death, which came at the hands of the corrupt ruler of the time, is officially mourned on Ashura - the 10th day of the month of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar - which is today for this year. The day includes fasting and prayer.
This is the 10th year the Anjuman Pasban-e-Aza group has organized the march and its leaders say attendance grows as more Muslims move to the area.Organizer Imram Rizvi estimated that as many as 5,000 attended. The men, who walked in front of the group of women and children, carried empty black coffins and their chants bounced off the buildings. "It tells (Hussein's) story," explained Hanna Meghji, 17. "It's poetry that's sung."
The march is also a symbolic reenactment. "We do it in a walk because (the women and children) had to walk from Karbala to Damascus in Syria" after the battle where Hussein was killed about 1,300 years ago, said Meghji. "As we walk, we sort of feel their pain and know that we (as humans) still fight oppression." Meghji, who was born in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and moved with her family to the Houston area nine years ago, said Ashura is "something we grow up doing."