Over 20 million pilgrims from around the world, including a record number of Iranians, have entered the holy Iraqi city of Karbala for observe Arbaeen rituals.

Iran Press/ Middle East: Among the pilgrims, which usually number 20 million from around the world every year, many arrive in Karbala after trekking about 70 kilometers northward from the holy city of Najaf in a symbolic gesture honoring Imam Hussein.

Pilgrims enter the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala up to two weeks before Arbaeen, the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam. This year’s Arbaeen falls on Saturday, October 19.

3.5 million Iranians had entered Iraq to take part in the ceremony, 1.2 million more than the number reported last year and topping previous participation records.

Foreign pilgrims from other countries also participate in the event, with tens of thousands entering Iraq notably from countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Lebanon.

Imam Hussein was martyred along with dozens of his companions during a last-stand battle against the tyrant of the time, Yazid I, more than thirteen centuries ago.

The martyrdom of Imam Hussein has turned into a symbol of righteous revolt and social and political reform.

Imam Hussein is a highly-venerated figure not only among Shia Muslims but also among Sunnis and people of other faiths.

Arbaeen becomes the world's largest annual peaceful gathering on earth. 101/205

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