Muharram is one of the four sacred months of the year. It is considered to be the most important after Ramadan. From the first of Muharram to twentieth of Safar, Shia and Sunni Muslims commemorate the death of Imam Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, his family and followers during the Battle of Karbala. The focal date is the tenth-day mourning, called Ashura (also spelled Ashoura).
Every year a large number of Shia make a pilgrimage to the mausoleum of Imam al-Hussein in Karbala (Iraq) and take part in rituals, which include mourning and self-flagellation. Shia Muslims cut themselves with swords, chains and knives to mourn for the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, al-Hussein. People of all age groups practice these rituals. In some regions even kids take part.
There is also a tradition to lit bonfires on the streets and cover the body and clothes with mud. Sunni Muslims commemorate this day with voluntary fasting. This event is also held in many countries, like Pakistan, Iraq, Bangladesh and India. Cruel rituals, like cutting the body with knives or chains, were banned in Iran and Lebanon.