The 10th of Muharram is the day of the martyrdom of the 3rd imam in the Twelver Shiism. Each year people everywhere in Iran observe the mourning via special traditional rites.
Although the mourning has developed into rich and intricate rites much favored by the public, as they regard them as religious duties, many clerics believe that much of the rites have deviated from the core of the observation and therefore are not religiously valid or even permitted.
One thing that is the common feature of pretty much any such mourning rite across the country is moving the heavy metal apparatuses called "alam”. These are highly decorated structures that tell of the common belief about the Martyrdom of Imam Hossein and his refined personality.
Alam, heavy structure made of steel and highly decorated. Each neighborhood moves one ahead of the protege as they walk the streets in Muharram. The structure is either moved on wheels or on the shoulders of able-bodied young men.
Another observation of the month of Muharram is giving donations in the form of food. It is usually given to people who come to the street for mourning.
The meal called "nazri" is a donation given to the public in Muharram
The variety of Muharram observances is a sources of attraction to the young
One form of mourning for Imam Hussein is called "zanjir zani", which is done by hitting one's shoulders with heavy bundles of iron chains in accompaniment with mourning music played with drums, brass, and cymbal.
Another observation is locally called "kharah mali”, meaning "to rub mud”. The basics of the rite is that mourners rub themselves with or dip themselves in dilute mud as a way of showing their sorrow over the occasion, after which they take part in a joint ceremony of hitting their breasts with both hands, called "sineh zani” in company to rhythmic verses. The rite is most common in western Iran, especially in Khorramabad, the capital of Luristan province.
Kharah mali, people dip themselves in mud as a way of showing mourning
Yet another mode of mourning belongs to central Iran. Called "qameh zani” it is a form of showing sorrow by hitting oneself in the head with light blows of knife or other similar tools.