So the pictures below are from my visit yesterday to the Khadimiya mosque in Baghdad during Ashura, a Shiite religious holiday and celebration. Perhaps commemoration is a better word. (Described, in part, in this Washington Post story that I worked on.)
The rub: the ceremonies celebrate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, who was whacked in 680 AD in the city of Karbala. The whole blood-splitting-open-the-forehead- thing–a practice that is actually frowned upon by most high ranking Shiite religious leaders, but the folks seem to love–symbolizes the martyrdom.