Nabatiyeh. Lebanon. This city, which is located in southern Lebanon, is also called “the city of Imam Hussein(1)“. Every year, in commemoration of the assassination of Imam Hussein and his family in Kerbala, the darb(2) procession takes place here as part of the Shiite ritual of Ashura.

Ashura is the tenth day of the month of Muharram, the first month of the Muslim calendar. The name is derived from “ashara”, ten in Arabic.

This day is of great importance for the Shiites because on this day, in 680, the massacre of Imam Hussein, his family and companions took place in Kerbala(3) by the troops of Omar bin Saad under the orders of the Caliph Yazid I(4).

Every year on the occasion of the commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the darb procession is held in Nabatiyeh. This procession is particularly impressive for the fervor of believers and the amount of blood shed by participants during the event.

This report illustrates, in detail, this procession. Click here for more pictures.

Text: Tarek Charara
Photos: Laurent Abad


1) Hussein Ibn Ali Ibn Abi Talib, born in Medina on January 9, 626, died in Kerbala on October 10, 680, was the son of Ali Ibn Abi Talib and grandson (through his mother) of the Prophet Muhammad.

He is, after the death of his brother Hassan in 670, the third Imam of the duodecimal Shiism.


Darb, or darb haidar, or tatbir: scarification of the skull that the subject strikes in cadence, with the flat of the hand or of a sword, while marching, in order to make his blood flow for Imam Hussein.

Body image and self-esteem among men practicing darb during the Shiite ritual of Ashura.
Psychology thesis, Line Abouzaki, July 2012

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Yazid Ibn Muawiya, 2nd Umayyad caliph, (645-683).