Pilgrims invited to write memoirs of Arba’een march

M. A. Fatemi
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


In the years we have left behind since 1390s solar hijri calendar (2010s), the Arba’een (the anniversary of the fortieth day of the martyrdom of Imam Hossain) march and walking has been turned into a special religious ritual during a year and the historical phenomenon of this decade.

Due to the history of their reverence to Imam Hossain (PBUH), his family and loyal companions as well as their old belief and love in pilgrimage of the holy shrines of the infallible Imams (PBUT) in Iraq, the Iranian pilgrims of the ritual are increasing every year and their presence becomes more considerable year by year.

For these pilgrims, every journey has souvenirs, rhymes and gifts especially when it is a spiritual one, and the close relatives and friends of the pilgrims look at the gift as a blessing. If we pay attention a little more, we find out that one of the most lasting gifts of such journeys is the memories and observations; from the first trip to any number of repetitions. The narrators retell their memoirs; it means they retell orally; a method used by most Iranian travelers who are accustomed to it.

In companionship with these pilgrims, in addition to enjoying their memoirs, the most appropriate response is to encourage them to write the same words and memoirs. Moreover, if we felt that their conditions, such as the age and the extent to which they were related to writing, were such that they might not record it soon, talk with them and take a step further. As a listener and questioner, we should encourage the owner of memoirs to provide the details that are later forgotten naturally and gradually now that he or she has just come back from the journey and his or her memory helps more than ever.

The Arba’een march and walking, as much as all of its pilgrims and as vast as the whole political and social developments that ran from the last ritual to the latest one covers talks, memories and details. If we pay more attention, we will see more new ones each year, even if the one who does not want to go to this trip pays this attention. The necessary condition for this attention is to bring together what has been seen and heard.

Part of what has been seen is produced by the media and the rest of the observations and hearing depends on our efforts not to simply pass the pilgrims just by kissing and wishing them that may God accept pilgrimage. We also should demand gifts but a lasting one like everything which is new for the pilgrims.  

When the combatants of the Sacred Defense returned from the war fronts and the POWs were freed from the concentration camps of Saddam’s army, they were invited to write and tell their memoirs and it took some two decades that their memory-writing movement took shape and became stable. This experience is backed by other fields that can be the source of recording of oral history of other historical phenomena. The cultural invitation of the public to write the memories of Arba’een march and walking especially from the large community of its pilgrims is the beginning of another cultural movement. If this invitation is continued, necessary trainings for writing memories and travel logs, paying attention to the pilgrims’ writings and reflection of the best of them for encouraging other pilgrims will create a bank of memories. Thus, for continuation of this movement, it is necessary to review and invite them to complete and release memories between each Arba’een march and walking until the next one. In addition to preserving the religious, spiritual and cultural influence of the event, this method will enhance the research aspect of the bank of such memories to researchers, historians and oral historiographers.         

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