The tragic event of Karbala which led to the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a.s) and his friends and family members is being commemorated by millions of Muslims across the globe. Arbaeen marked the 40th day from the day of Ashura and is also known as Chehlum of Imam Hussain (a.s). On this day, scores of people from different parts of the world start the marathon walk on an 80 km stretch from Najaf to Karbala. These pilgrims cover vast swathes of land barefooted while reciting different poems and poetry written on Karbala. The participants have been swelling each year which stipulates the importance of Arbaeen.
Pilgrims start their journey on the 16th safar from Najaf towards the shrines of martyrs of Karbala. Tens of thousands walk towards Karbala to exhibit their love for the Grandson of Prophet (P.B.U.H). The distance is usually covered in two days and two nights, depending on the number of stopovers in between. These stoppages are a vital element of this spiritual journey. Pilgrims, while on their route, are being greeted in the utmost favorable manner by the Iraqi nationals and locals. It includes offering sweetened drinks, fruits, and food. Iraqi people also ensure that no one goes unserved or thirsty.
Pilgrims only carry a single backpack each only for the necessary things. Some of these visitors are with a group of people hosted by a particular travel company while others are on their own in performing this sacred duty by visiting the holy shrines on the most pious of days.
There are also muaakibs (small tents), separate for both genders, formed for the pilgrims with blankets where they can rest. There are also masseurs available to serve tired people by giving them a massage. Some locals go even farther by offering the pilgrims their own houses to rest and to have meals and even bath before resuming their Arbaeen walk. The locals even urge visitors to sit with them for a revitalizing drink. This gesture of love from the locals is solely to get the blessings of Imam Hussain (a.s).
There are even mobile ambulances in case there is an emergency. There is no restriction of nationality, age, gender, and religion when going towards the shrine of Imam Hussain (a.s). Every individual irrespective of their attributes is a pilgrim and is treated in the same manner. This is the most unifying point and shows the message of Karbala. Despite facing economic restrictions, these locals not only open their doors but hearts as well for the visitors.
The Arbaeen walk is one of the most important events for Shia Muslims. They commemorate this day to remember the sacrifice of Imam Hussain (a.s) to save Islam from tormenting from the unguided individuals.