Ashura in Dhaka was the most intense event I’ve ever photographed.

For the first half hour I couldn’t even look through the view finder because I was too overwhelmed – and also trying to make sure that I didn’t get flicked by a knife.  There were large crowds, which heaved backwards (insofar as it was possible) at the last minute. Being at the front of the crowd was necessary but scary.

Boys, teenagers and men took part


Ashura explained:

Ceremonies are held during the night and day to commemorate the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hossain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, who was brutally murdered in Karbala, Iraq, 1300 years ago.

Ashura takes place on the day of his murder, which is the tenth day of one of the holiest months of the Islamic calendar.

You can see the scars from previous years on the back of the guy on the left

White pony and swordsmen

It wasn’t all about blood-spilling though.

There was a long procession in the morning that started from Hossaini Dalare in Dhaka – there were tens of thousands of people.

Here are some pictures:

Watching and waiting for the procession to begin

Wonderful outfit

Wonderful eyes

Smiling from the sidelines

If you haven’t seen enough yet, here is my video: