AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization said the country will resume sending pilgrims to Iraq via land borders starting next week.
Seyed Sadeq Hosseini made the announcement after a meeting in Tehran on Monday with Iraqi Minister Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Antiquities Hassan Nazem.
He said 2,500 pilgrims will travel to the Arab country daily at first and the number will gradually rise to 15,000.
Air travels from Iran to Iraq had resumed a few months ago and now for the first time in about two years, Iranians can visit the holy cities of Iraq by crossing the land borders.
Hosseini also noted that with the restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic having been lifted, a large number of Iranians are expected to take part in the annual Arbaeen march in Iraq this year.
He predicted that the number will exceed that of the pre-pandemic years.
Every year millions of Iranians travel to Iraq’s holy cities, including Najaf, Karbala and Samarra to visit the holy shrines in those cities.
The number of the pilgrims rises significantly during the Arbaeen season.
The Arbaeen mourning ceremony is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world.
It marks the 40th day after Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Imam Hussein (AS). This year’s Arbaeen falls on September 17.
Each year, a huge crowd of Shias flock to Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) is located, to perform mourning rites.
The pilgrims, mainly from Iraq and Iran, travel long routes on foot to the holy city.
Some 3.2 million Iranians took part in the Arbaeen march in 2019 but this year the number is predicted to rise to an all-time high of over five million.
In 2020 and 2021, the Arbaeen march was held in Iraq with a limited number of foreign pilgrims in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic.