Provision of services and hospitality during the Arba'in visitation

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Inscribed in 2019 (14.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities (Iraq), 2018

Provision of services and hospitality during the Arba’in visitation is a social practice performed across the central and southern regions of Iraq, from where processions of visitors and pilgrims converge towards the Holy City of Karbala. The tradition – a social practice with deep roots in the Iraqi and Arab tradition of hospitality – is an immense display of charity through volunteering and social mobilization and considered to be a defining element of Iraq’s cultural identity. Every year, around the 20th of the Islamic month of Safar, the Iraqi province of Karbala receives millions of visitors in one of the world’s most populous religious pilgrimages. Hailing from different regions in Iraq and abroad, visitors walk to the Holy Shrine of Imam Hussein. A vast number of people contribute their time and resources to providing the pilgrims with free services along the route. Starting at least two weeks before the date of Arba’in, associations set up temporary facilities or reopen more permanent ones along the pilgrimage routes, including prayer halls, guest houses and stands offering various services. Many people also open their houses for free overnight accommodation. Bearers and practitioners include cooks, families offering hospitality, the administration of the two Holy Shrines in Karbala, volunteer guides, volunteer medical teams, and benefactors contributing generous donations.

Participation of Iraqi people and families in providing services and hospitality during the visitation to the pilgrims and visitors along the regions leading to the Holy City of Karbala, especially those visitors who used to walk long distances hoping to reach the Holy Shrine of Imam Hussein
Participation of Iraqi families in the preparation of meals to be provided to the visitors in all areas and regions leading to the Holy City of Karbala
An aspect of the participation of foreign countries in setting up the services and hospitality processions during the Araba'in visitation
A young girl joined her family in providing drinks to the visitors in a region leading to Karbala
One of the hospitality pavillon related to the Holy Shrine of Imam Hussein with its accommodation for visitors with their children and offering them all kinds of food and drinks
Participation of the restaurants owners through their voluntary campaigns in providing all visitors with different kinds of grilled food for free of charge
A group of chefs and wealthy donors of money while cooking many kinds of food that are provided to the visitors of Imam Hussein throughout the period of the visitation
A group of volunteers from the local governments and non-governmental organizations, school pupils and university students, etc. while they are doing massage in one of the rest processions to those visitors who come to Karbala from far-off provinces walking on foot
One of the mobile medical centers which is specialized in treating the states of emergencies and providing medical supplies for the female visitors throughout the period of the visitation
The guest house related to the Holy Shrine of Imam Hussein distributes three meals of food and drinks every day and throughout the period of the Visitation