Muharram is the first month of the Islamic Calendar, and is one of the four sacred months of the year. The tenth day of Muharram is celebrated as the Day of Ashura. For Shia Muslims, the Day of Ashura is part of the mourning of Muharram. Many Muslims mark the day by fasting, and it is a public holiday in India.

According to the Hadith, Musa (or Moses) and his people defeated the Egyptian Pharaoh on the 10th day of Muharram. To mark this victory, Muslims pray on this day. The Day of Ashura also marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram for Shiras, while Sunnis commemorate it as the Day of Atonement.

Shias observe the 10th day of Muharram as the day of martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussain, so no celebrations are held in Shia homes. Instead, they remember the loss of Hussain and his companions’ lives in the Battle of Karbala, with great sorrow and passion. Shias also avoid good food and wearing new clothes, and postpone weddings and birthday parties till the end of Ashura. The Dawoodi Bohra and Khoja communities of the Shia sect also spend Muharram in mourning in memory of the tragedy at Karbala.

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