Hundreds of half-naked Shi’a Muslim men lined Manchester’s Curry Mile on Sunday, rhythmically pelting their chests in an act of mourning for the Lady Fatima.
Many shoppers and diners watched as the men self-flagellated for more than two hours in front of the Mughli restaurant on Wimslow Road.
Wives and mothers wept on the sidelines as the men chanted prayers and beat their already red chests, some drawing blood from the forcefulness of their beating.
TEST OF DEVOTION: The ritual is very important to Shi'a muslims as a symbol
of their faith
According to one source, the men’s deeply scarred backs tell the tales of when swords were used in the brutal ceremonial act.
The annual event commemorates the passing of the immaculate Lady Fatima – the sole daughter of the Prophet Muhammed who was killed after defending her husband by Umar ibn al-Khattab.
According to Shi’a piety, Lady Fatima was sinless and therefore serves as an example for all Muslim women to aspire to.
Manchester City Council gave the go-ahead for the ceremony to take place on the busy high street on request from the participants wish to be seen self-harming in public.
For many spectators, the scenes of self-flagellation were too horrifying to stomach while those with stronger constitutions got their smart phones out and gleefully snapped away.
But for Shi’a Muslims this procession is not grotesque. It is a test of devotion and a means to demonstrate their zeal and sincerity toward their religion.
SPIRITUAL: The ceremony is an act of mourning over Lady Fatima
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