FLASHBACK | A little girl prepared to have her head slashed open
As a child cries in the background covered in blood, this young girl is preparing to feel a blade slice open her skin.
The young Shia Muslim was taking part in a ceremony to mark the Muslim festival of Ashura, which mourns the death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.
It is marked by 10 days of mourning, in which many devotees whip and cut themselves with chains and knives and some drive knives into their scalps and is seen as a way of washing away their sins.
The pictures above were taken in Chennai during the mourning procession on the tenth day of Muharram, which marks the day of Ashura.
Ashura mourns the death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, who was killed by armies of the Yazid near Karbala in 680 AD.
In the picture of the girl with the knife held to her head, a child can be seen in the background.
The youngster is sucking a dummy, with a blood-smeared forehead and clearly distressed.
Other photographs taken today show young boys are paraded down the street as they slap their claret-stained chests in an act of flagellation.
The act of punishing oneself is part of the Muslim festival, and as the women line the streets beating their chests, topless men and boys whip themselves with knives and razorblades leaving to give themselves nasty back wounds.
In one particularly disturbing photo, a man wearing a blood-splattered shirt has sliced a huge gash in the top of his head and appears to be slapping it.
The religious festival is celebrated widely in and in Baghdad yesterday a blood-stained Shiite boy clutching a huge knife joined his young friends in the bloody ceremony.
Iraq saw some of the goriest scenes, with huge groups of blood-drenched men flooding the cities’ streets.
And the ritual is not exclusive to Asia either.
In Piraeus port near Athens in Greece, the Ashoura festival was in full flow today.
Topless men roamed the streets with huge knives and over-sized razorblades to take chunks out of their own backs for their religion.
More than 6,000 Muslim shiites, including citizens and refugees, live in the country.
They pray at four makeshift mosques, according to the Shiites Muslim Association of Greece.
The festival of Ashura falls each year on the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar year, and mourns the death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, who was killed by armies of the Yazid near the Iraqi city of Karbala in 680 AD.
The sombre festival, which commemorates Imam Hussein’s martyrdom, is marked with ten days of mourning, with religious Muharram processions taking place, in which many devotees whip and cut themselves with chains and knives.
In a similar procession yesterday in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, medics were on hand to stitch men’s wounds back together after they but their backs during the self-flagellation parade.
It’s not just men and boys who are subjected to the religious ritual, with girls, women and even babies in Lebanon forced to shed blood in the name of Allah.