Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Documentary - Ashoora (Ashura) in Iran

Street/Documentary photography is one of my favorite areas of photography. The reason might be my passion for anthropology. It gives you the opportunity to observe real people. A camera can be a shield that you can hide behind and observe life as it goes on. This invaluable shield also gives you the opportunity to make the striking moments of life eternal.

One reason that I like documentary photography is that our memories are fading. A moment as seen with the eye can be striking at that moment and then it fades away. However, a photo can make that striking moment eternal, if it captures the heart of that moment. Another reason is that not all people has the same opportunities, and not all of them can be present at those moments. So as a payback for what I had the opportunity to see, I like to show them to people. To show them how bizzare things in your life can be totally normal in other people's life. So "Open mind for a different view".

This photo has been taken during the night before Ashoora/Ashura which is a very important day in Shia (شیعه)(Shitte) Islam. There are many different traditions in different parts of muslim countries. During this night, people gather usually at mosques or places called Hosseinieh (حسینیه) in Tehran. They hold a big funeral and they mourn till passed midnight. Each neighborhood (specially in older ones) they have groups they called Dasteh (دسته) which go on the street and carry big signs. People follow them in lines and mourn in different ways.

I should note that Ashoora is the 10th day of a ten day mourning the starting day of which is on the beginning of lunar year in Arabic countries (Iran is not an Arabic country).

One of the most important traditions during these 10 days in Iran is that some of the rich people who are also considered to be believers, or more faithful to Islam, give out free food to who ever comes and mourns in this big funerals. As part of this tradition they will sacrifice sheep, sometime for the mourners and sometimes for themselves. This sacrificed sheep is killed in the Islamic way of killing that makes their meat halal, usually on street. Then they make that dinner that they give out to the mourners with the meat of this sheep.

I took this photo in an old neighborhood in Tehran, Iran during this funeral in Winter of 2007. It shows one of those sacrifices taking place on the street. The butcher is slitting the throat of the sheep.


  1. poor sheep..very beautiful photo though, captured the moment perfectly

  2. Yeah! that's it! step further...

  3. Ashura is a holy event and many sacrifices are made along with mourning to offer in the memories of their elders. This photo shows everything, perfectly captured. Thanks for sharing.